The Risk of Pokies in New Zealand
There are literally thousands of pokies (slot machines) in New Zealand. Featured in bars and clubs. In some areas of New Zealand, there is as many as 1 slot machine for every 75 adults. The average adult gambler (and bear in mind that many people do not play the pokies) puts in around $200 per year on the pokies. So while a small majority here and there have a problem gambling, overall, with spending of around $200 per year, that means that most gamblers spend only about 54 cents per day on the pokies.
You might as well ask how many New Zealanders spend 54 cents on coffee per day. So the idea that pokie gambling is sending thousands of people to the poorhouse is ridiculous.
Also, by law, at least 40 per cent of the revenue from pokies must go back to the community in the form of grants, which means a significant part of that 54 cents per day goes straight back to the community.
The Rewards of Pokies
So with that said, what are the chance of winning a pokie at a pub or bar? Seriously, it is difficult to tell from the statistics. According to some, the odds of winning a mega jackpot at a pokie are about one in 97 million. They say the odds are greater you will be struck by lightning than win it big with the pokies, but lightning strikes New Zealand up to 50,000 times per year, and every year or two, many people are hit. The same operates with pokies in New Zealand. There are a ton of minor winners, $500 or more, and then now and then a major winner.
One of the main things that players of pokies have to watch out for is the machines themselves, specifically, the rules behind a slot. Some large jackpots are attainable only for those who play 50, 100, even 200 lines of play. And with those types of machines, you can indeed wind up playing a lot of money on the machines. Another thing to consider is the local reputation of the charitable organization sponsoring the pokies. By law, such organizations can pay out as little as 74 percent on their pokie machined to a maximum of 92 percent.
But word quickly gets around in gambling circles, so if an organization does not pay at least 90 percent of the payout, people will vote with their feet and simply play somewhere else.
Why Even Play Pokies
Naturally, the vast percentage of people who use the pokies in New Zealand only put in a max of $20. While there are a few, by the most part people do not sit around and play pokies hour after hour, or borrow the rent money to gamble with.
In fact, most people only will gamble to enjoy themselves and get a little break from reality. Playing pokies is a real social experience for most. So the rewards are relatively high, a chance at getting a life-changing experience and to have a few beers to boot while they are laughing and joking with friends.
Another way of thinking about it is to compare the costs of this piece of recreation with other social experiences. Go to the movies and you will surely spend a good $20 bucks or more on movie tickets and refreshments. And nobody at the movie theatre is waiting at the door to hand out a thank you gift of $100 to $500 for enjoying another version of the Fast and Furious franchise.
The same goes for buying a bottle of wine or a case of beer. People can indeed drink at home much cheaper than they can at a pub. But they go to a pub to be social and are willing to pay the extra price for the opportunity to do so. When people go to a pub or club, they go to be social, and the fact that there are pokies to play is an added plus, not a minus.
For one thing, when out in public at a club or bar, people are not at home committing physical violence to one another, and in fact, they are on their best behaviour when in a club or bar.
Pokies, therefore, offer a low-risk way for the average person to have a bit of fun trying their luck. They are fun, and people don’t really expect to get rich off of them, or quit their job the next day and tell their boss to suck it and quit.
Pokies are popular because gambling offers a little break from reality and the same folks that would urge the closing of all pokies would next be clamouring for the prohibition of alcohol or a 50 percent surcharge over sugary drinks. Pokies are a fact of life in New Zealand and thank God they exist. Most of us can’t imagine the alternatives if they went away.