New figures show a sharp rise in gambling problems linked to
Lotto, and health officials blame big jackpots.
The figures show more than 12 per cent of problem gamblers
cite the Lotteries Commission as their main gambling outlet,
up from 8.8 per cent in a survey three years earlier.
While pokies in pubs and clubs still lead problem gambling
statistics, the figures show more problem gamblers associated
with Lotto since its big jackpot of $37 million in 2009.
The Ministry of Health, in a consultation document for
setting the gambling levy, said "these increases are probably
related to the increased frequency of large jackpot prizes
and the enhanced appeal of large jackpots in difficult
The increase comes as Government ministers consider official
advice to increase funding from the Lotteries Commission to
services helping to treat problem gamblers.
The Gambling Commission has told ministers Chris Tremain and
Peter Dunne they need to change the formula for funding the
problem gambling levy, upping the Lotteries Commission's
share from $4 million to $5.4 million - a rise of 36.5 per
The Lotto body has resisted the increase, saying it would
reduce the money the Lottery Grants Board distributed to
Lotto's rise in problem gambling figures was first signalled
by Maori health provider Hauora Waikato.
The ministry consultation document also suggests that easy
access to Lotteries Commission products online could be part
of the problem.
The figures come amid calls for health warnings to be placed
on gambling products - including Lotto.
Hauora Waikato general manager Aroha Waipara-Panapa, a
clinical psychologist, said Lotteries Commission games were
the friendly face of gambling and "contribute to the
acceptability of gambling in general".
A warning would "advise people that buying a Lotto ticket is
a gambling activity and it can lead or contribute to gambling
Ms Waipara-Panapa said Lotto was an easily accessible and
relatively cheap form of gambling.
Hauora Waikato had heard of families going without basic food
items like milk and bread to "be in to win".
The claim was supported by a Synergia report to the Gambling
Commission three months ago that said Lotteries' products
were the second most common form of gambling to cause an
argument in a family or to cause someone to go without.
It was cited in 14 per cent of cases, after pokies at 52 per
A Lotteries Commission spokeswoman said the increase in
gamblers with problems was offset by the decrease in people
affected by a gambler's behaviour.
"Taking gamblers and 'affected others' together, the
percentage of new clients citing NZ Lotteries has not changed
materially over the three years."
She cited different figures, saying: "There has been
virtually no change in the sector share of problem gambling
presentations since 2009.
"It has been our belief that if there had been a fundamental
shift in the gambling behaviour of problem and at-risk
gamblers, this would have been borne out in the data for
people seeking help."
New problem gamblers
Problem gamblers citing Lotto as main game
2010-11 12+ %
Source: Ministry of Health
- David Fisher of the New Zealand Herald