Gambling – A cost or a benefit?
Gambling is a form of entertainment subject to much debate. Gambling provides enjoyment for many, problems for some and is a source of funding for others. Despite its controversy, the majority of studies to date look solely at one side of the issue, that of problem gambling. There has been a lack of research into the overall wellbeing effects of gambling on New Zealanders. What are all the costs and benefits surrounding Lotto, Class 4 (pokies), TAB and casinos and how do they stack up?
In a study commissioned by the Gaming Machine Association of New Zealand, TDB Advisory assessed the wellbeing impacts of gambling in New Zealand. We estimated the demand and supply for gambling in New Zealand, analysing both the quantifiable and non-quantifiable costs and benefits.
The benefits of gambling include the enjoyment experienced by around 2.8 million New Zealanders who choose to gamble every once and a while (valued in net terms at around $650m to $1,070m p.a.); the significant net proceeds gambling generates that largely go to the community (valued at around $810m p.a.); and the gambling duty revenues to the government (valued at around $280m p.a. net). At the same time, gambling for a small portion of people can lead to serious harms, including costs to peoples’ health and relationships and to increased crime. Most of these harms however are very difficult or impossible to quantify in monetary terms, largely because of issues of comorbidities and two-way causation. We conclude that the government and industry have important roles to play in providing a balance between these costs and benefits and ensuring costs are minimised and benefits maximised.