Aggressive lotto marketing harms gamblers

The numbers of people presenting to problem gambling services who cite Lotto as the gambling method that causes harm is no surprise given the changes the Lotteries Commission has brought in over the last few years.

Marketing for Lotto has become more aggressive – it’s everywhere – the jackpots are higher and Lotteries Commission gambling is more easily accessible because it is the only form of state sanctioned on-line gambling. (As one wag put it to me recently you can lose the house without leaving the house.)

For a long time Lotto has been seen as a benign form of gambling however the latest figures from the Ministry of Health show that problem gambling with Lotteries Commission products (that includes scratchies ) has increased from nearly 9% in 2009 to over 12% last year. Hauora Waikato, the Māori problem gambling service that blew the whistle on these figures suggests that Lotto outlets are also being targeted to poorer areas.  Just like pokie bars.

The Lotteries Commission is also fighting against the Ministry of Health’s suggestion that they should be paying a larger problem gambling levy to recognise the increase in harm from their products.

It’s alarming that a state run organisation is behaving like a greedy commercial operator to increase the revenue from harmful products.

Mind you, this Government has taken a very lax approach to other gambling operators so maybe it shouldn’t be a surprise.  (Sky City and their convention-centre for more-pokie machines comes to mind.) It’s about time the Lotteries Commission had a close look at what harm they’re causing and at the very least set up host responsibility programmes like other gambling operators.

6 thoughts on “Aggressive lotto marketing harms gamblers

  1. …however the latest figures from the Ministry of Health show that problem gambling with Lotteries Commission products (that includes scratchies ) has increased from nearly 9% in 2009 to over 12% last year.

    That would be due almost solely to the increased unemployment. When people are desperate they’ll reach for anything to try and keep afloat.

    It’s alarming that a state run organisation is behaving like a greedy commercial operator to increase the revenue from harmful products.

    It may be alarming but is perfectly predictable after 30+ years of economists and politicians saying that profit is the measure of efficiency and that government should be run on the same lines as the private sector.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  2. Funny thing, the Chinese are big gamblers, yet they don’t end up living in squalor like the underclass in NZ.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  3. What is even more disturbing is the charities (who are tasked to clean up the mess) taking money from Lotteries and Sky City.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  4. Hauora Waikato, the Māori problem gambling service that blew the whistle on these figures suggests that Lotto outlets are also being targeted to poorer areas. Just like pokie bars.

    Again, you don’t seem to appear to understand supply and demand.

    The Lotto outlets follow demand, else they’d go broke. People in rich areas don’t buy a lot of lotto tickets, because people in rich areas tend to be able to do maths and lotto tickets are seen as low-brow.

    It’s the same reason bistros set-up shop in wealthy areas. That’s where the demand is.

    You also discount the value proposition. It’s entertainment for many people, and proceeds go back to the community. For almost everyone who plays it, they do so with cash they can afford to spend.

    *Some* people over-indulge. In anything.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  5. @as 3:16 PM

    I don’t think racial generalisations contribute usefully to the discussion.

    And if problem gambling didn’t impact negatively on Chinese, I doubt PGF would have seen the need to develop an Asian Family Services division providing counselling in Cantonese and Mandarin, among other languages.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

  6. I agree. “Fools and money are soon parted”. The problem is that, progressively since its inception in 1987 as a simply 6-from-40 gambling game (when it replaced the 250,000-balls-in-barrel Golden Kiwi), the prize structure of Lotto has been increasingly skewed, with larger and larger jackpots at longer and longer odds. Originally it was just a pick-6-from-40 plus bonus number, with no limit on the first division prize pool. Then the Powerball was added so that there would be large jackpots struck only after several weeks, as a pick-1-from-8 in addition to winning First Division, although jackpots were capped at about $36 million (going to Second Division winners with the correct Powerball number if not struck then).
    Then, a couple of years ago, as if jackpots were not large enough, the Powerball draw odds were increased by making them 1-from-10. And, at the same time, the ordinary Lotto 6/40 draw was milked of a large part of its funds to feed the Powerball jackpots by capping the pool for each First Division draw at just $1 million (prior to this the pool was usually around $1.3 million), although very occasionally First Division itself jackpots to be worth $2 million for the next draw.
    This sort of thing needs to be rolled right back! Frankly, I favor going back to the original 6/40 game with no Powerball; or, at the very least, going back to the 1/8 Powerball with no cap on the First Division pool.
    John W, Whangarei.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 0 Thumb down 0 (0)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>