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Few New Zealanders Turned to Gambling During Pandemic
New Zealand is one of the countries that has dealt with the coronavirus pandemic the most promptly and effectively. Its numbers tell the story.
As of May 9, New Zealand reported:
- Total confirmed cases = 1,142
- Total additional probable cases = 350
- Total deaths = 21
- Total cases currently in hospital = 2
With the first case reported on February 28, the numbers few slowly until mid-March, when there was a significant jump. The peak numbers hit between March 25 and April 5, at which point the numbers decreased quickly and fairly steadily.
The New Zealand government credits the vigilance of the public and widespread testing with comparatively low numbers, as well as relying on good science.
Beginning to Reopen NZ
The New Zealand government developed a four-level alert system for dealing with the pandemic. Level 4 was the lockdown, but the country transitioned to Level 3 on April 27. This restrictive phase still requires people remain in their bubbles but allows people to go to work if necessary and school with limited capacity if necessary. Businesses are open but without physical interactions with customers.
The government may authorize a move to Level 2 on May 11. This will indicate that the risks are limited to household transmission and single or isolated clusters of cases.
At this level, New Zealanders will be able to shop, travel domestically, gather in groups of less than 100 people, and resume most sports and recreational activities. There must be some physical distancing and care involved, but activities like going to school are considered safe.
Immediate Initial Health Study
Nielsen worked with the Health Promotion Agency in New Zealand to start to assess the impact of the pandemic on the health of citizens. The “Impact of COVID-19” survey is the result of fieldwork from April 7-13, which were the 13th through 19th days of Level 4 lockdown.
The survey was conducted online, which does exclude some segments of society. However, field workers used a special database to boost the numbers of Maori and Pasifika respondents.
Topline results were released on April 17, 2020. The four primary sections of the report pertained to alcohol consumption, smoking, gambling, and general health and wellbeing.
Nearly 40% of those surveyed reported gambling during the lockdown, but most reported that they didn’t gambling more than usual during this time. Some even reported gambling less frequently.
Some numbers of note:
- 39% gambled since lockdown
- 41% gambled the same as usual
- 50% gambled less than usual
- 9% increased gambling since lockdown
- 15% of Maoris increased gambling
- 22% of young gamblers (18-24 years old) increased gambling
- 8% gambled online for the first time
- 12% gambled online more than usual
More people increased their online gambling during the lockdown because they couldn’t go to their usual places to do so. Those who gambled less did so due to financial reasons.
Specific Total Gambling Changes
The study breaks down the gambling changes first by ethnic groups:
- Maori = 47% less than usual, 38% same, 15% more than usual
- Pasifika = 54% less, 38% same, 8% more
- Non-Maori/Pasifika = 50% less, 42% same, 8% more
The next chart separates the changes by age groups:
- 18-24 years = 48% less than usual, 30% same, 22% more than usual
- 25-49 years = 49% less, 39% same, 12% more
- 50-64 years = 47% less, 46% same, 8% more
- 65+ years = 56% less, 44% same
Numbers Specific to Online Gambling
A breakdown of online gambling since the lockdown is as follows:
- 24% less than usual
- 33% same as usual
- 12% more than usual
- 8% gambled online for the first time
- 23% do not gamble online at all
Those online gambling numbers are then divided by ethnic groups:
- Maori = 27% less, 26% same, 18% more, 12% first time, 17% not at all
- Pasifika = 24% less, 37% same, 17% more, 7% first time, 14% not at all
- Non-Maori/Pasifika = 23% less, 34% same, 11% more, 7% first time, 25% not at all
And online gambling by age groups?
- 18-24 years = 31% less, 34% same, 8% more, 14% first time, 13% not at all
- 25-49 years = 28% less, 34% same, 18% more, 5% first time, 15% not at all
- 50-64 years = 21% less, 34% same, 7% more, 6% first time, 31% not at all
- 65+ years = 13% less, 29% same, 9% more, 12% first time, 37% not at all
Of the people who gambled online less during this pandemic lockdown, half of them noted it was due to financial reasons. Another 15% indicated they didn’t want to gamble online in front of their families (including children), while 13% decided they were gambling too much. An interesting 11% gambled less online due to someone suggested they should reduce their gambling frequency. Relatively small percentages attributed gambling less to work or study, sickness, and mental health disorders.
As for those who gambled more online, more than half (51%) of them felt it was a substitute for gambling in person that they would have normally done. And 34% of those surveyed said they were simply bored, with 28% doing it to try to win money. A quarter of the respondents gambled online to help them relax, with another 15% due to stress or anxiety. Some also did it because they were already spending more time online for social reasons.
The vast majority of people who gambled online used MyLotto for lottery purchases, but these were the full numbers:
- MyLotto = 65%
- NZ TAB = 19%
- Instant Kiwi = 16%
- Offshore gambling/gaming websites = 14%
- SkyCity Online Casino = 8%
- Other = 4%
- No online gambling = 10%
Most of the people who gambled in general during the lockdown didn’t worry about it, with 17% saying they started worrying about their own gambling habits. Nine percent worried about someone else in their household.
The concerns in both categories were much more prevalent among Pasifika respondents and nearly the same for Maoris.
Age group concerns were highest in both categories in the 25-49 age group, followed by 18-24-year-olds. Very low percentages worried about themselves or family members over 50 years old.