Annual gambling losses pass $2.6 billion

The Department of Internal Affairs latest gambling statistics show a 9% increase in gambling expenditure between 2019 and 2021. Gambling expenditure was nearly $2.7 billion in the year ended June 2021 (gambling expenditure is the amount lost by gamblers – the difference between the amount gambled and the amount returned as prizes). Total gambling turnover (excluding casinos) was estimated to be $15.1 billion. The growth in gambling expenditure was limited by the COVID-19 border restrictions, which significantly reduced international tourist numbers.

The strongest growth in total turnover and expenditure was on New Zealand Lotteries Commission products. Expenditure on these increased by 31% in the two years to June 2021

To put the gambling expenditure of $2,625 million into context, Statistics New Zealand latest household expenditure survey for the year to June 2019 shows that New Zealand households were estimated to have spent:

• $3,362 million on apparel and footwear,
• $4,092 million on domestic fuel and power, and
• $3.836 million on health services.

Why do people gamble?

Many people gamble because they feel that they have needs that cannot be met through earned income. Gambling to them is their “opportunity” to acquire material wealth and comforts. Another group gambles just for the fun of it; they call themselves social gamblers. The last group is compulsive gamblers. To them gambling is a disease that wrecks their finances, families, and careers.

Why is gambling a problem?

Gambling surveys that people on low incomes spend a higher proportion of their income on gambling. That’s often motivated by a desire to experience a level of wealth that’s not possible through work. For every person who gains money from gambling there is a far greater number who have lost. All of the expenditure numbers quoted in this article are based on the average amount of money that is lost by people in gambling, not the amount they have invested in the hope of winning.

Expenditure of this size is having an impact on families, with the biggest impact on those that can least afford the loss of income. Problem gambling is a concern, but even low scale gamblers are a concern. That’s because money is being diverted away from current family needs for a distant hope of future wealth.

Gambling is in direct opposition to the scriptural principles of diligent work and faithful stewardship. No productive work is required in gambling; thus, a person’s character is not properly developed. The odds of winning are absurdly low, and gamblers waste the possessions that the Lord has entrusted to them.


The Bible does not specifically prohibit gambling. However, for many the motivation for gambling is an attempt to get rich quick. This is a violation of Scripture. In our opinion, a godly person should never participate in gambling or lotteries — even for entertainment. We should not expose ourselves or others around us to the risk of becoming compulsive gamblers; nor should we support an industry that enslaves so many.

There is more information of the DIA website

Peter Crawford

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Peter Crawford

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