Over the course of the past year, spending on pokies has vastly increased. Despite the number of pokies and pokie venues being on the decrease, there was a $26 million jump in the amount of money that residents spent on the games. While it is a boon to the local gaming market, the news has alarmed anti-gambling activists, causing them to wonder why such a phenomenon has occurred.
According to TVNZ, the increase is attributed to losses in disadvantaged areas across New Zealand. It seems that there was a spike in gambling spending in the area of Canterbury after the recent earthquake. It mimics the trend that occurred after the Christchurch earthquake as residents have turned to gambling to deal with their grief.
It is an alarming statistic because there are fewer poker machines in these areas as a result of the recent natural disaster. With less pokies, it means that fewer individuals are spending more money, contributing millions of dollars in gambling losses to the machines.
It seems that something needs to be done outside of gambling regulation. Counselling and education programs seem like the ideal solutions; however, few organizations have taken on this responsibility.