Gambling machines

Gambling can lead to significant health, social, and economic implications for individuals and families [12]. Harms associated with gambling may include addiction, social isolation, depression, suicide, relationship breakdown, lowered work productivity, job loss, bankruptcy, and crime, including family violence [12]. National statistics demonstrate that the harms of gambling disproportionately affect Māori, Pacific people, and those living in low socioeconomic areas [13, 14].

Studies of the detrimental effects of gambling have confirmed a link between the geographic accessibility of gambling establishments and the prevalence of problem gambling [15-17]. People living close to all types of gambling premises have a higher chance of becoming problematic gamblers than those living at a distance from gambling premises [18]. Gambling machine establishments (specifically ‘Class 4 venues’ or ‘non-casino’ pubs and clubs) are typically clustered within socioeconomically deprived areas [19-21] and this has been shown to widen existing social and health inequalities [20, 22]. Gambling tends to be ‘economically regressive’, meaning that it increases inequality by diverting money from a larger group (typically of lower socioeconomic status) to a smaller group (of higher socioeconomic status) [23].

Gambling machine density has reduced steadily in New Zealand since the early 2000s, in large part due to the adoption of ‘sinking lid’ policies by many Territorial Authorities (when an existing ‘pokie’ venue closes, consent is not granted for another to be established) [24].

This indicator presents gambling machine density (the number of gambling machines per 10,000 population), in greater Christchurch and New Zealand from 2008 to 2021 (Internet or live casino games are not captured by this measure). Gambling machine proceeds, per annum, per 10,000 population aged 15 years and over, are also described.

The figure shows that gambling machine density in greater Christchurch has declined substantially over the time period shown, from 60.7 machines per 10,000 population in 2008 to 35.7 machines per 10,000 population in 2021. This pattern is broadly in line with gambling machine density across New Zealand.

Similarly, gambling machine proceeds per annum, per 10,000 population aged 15 years and over have declined across greater Christchurch and New Zealand over the same time period (data not shown). For greater Christchurch, gambling machine proceeds have declined from $2.62M per 10,000 population aged 15 years and over, in 2008 ($262 per person) to 2.42M per 10,000 population aged 15 years and over, in 2021 ($241 per person). For New Zealand, gambling machine proceeds have declined from $2.71M to $2.06M per 10,000 population between 2008 and 2021.


The figure shows the gambling machine density per 10,000 population for Christchurch City, and the Selwyn and Waimakariri districts, from 2008 to 2021. The pattern is one of declining density overall, in keeping with the national picture. In 2021, gambling machine proceeds (data not shown) were highest in Christchurch City (equivalent to $243 per person aged 15 years and over) and lowest in Selwyn District ($80 per person). Gambling machine proceeds for the Waimakariri District were approximately midway between Christchurch City and Selwyn District in 2021 ($162 per person).


Data Sources

Source: Department of Internal Affairs.
Survey/data set: Administrative data to December 2021. Access publicly available data from the Department of Internal Affairs website catalogue.data.govt.nz/dataset/gaming-machine-profits-gmp-dashboard
Source data frequency: Quarterly.

View technical notes and data tables for this indicator.

Updated: 08/05/2023