Lotto targets poor areas, claimed health official

NZ Herald 8 June 2012
Health Health officials told Lotto bosses they were driving up the numbers of poor people with gambling problems by targeting sales at the country’s most deprived areas, documents show.

They told the Lotteries Commission there appeared to be a link between spikes in addiction figures and big Lotto jackpots.

The claim was revealed in letters released by the Ministry of Health through the Official Information Act. It came after a surge in problem gambling statistics was challenged by the Lotteries Commission.

Other information released showed the Lotteries Commission was relying on jackpots to drive sales and deliberately restructured its games to attract more people to the big prizes.

The spat between the Ministry of Health and the state-owned Lotteries Commission came after statistics showed there had been a doubling in the number of problem gambling cases in which Lotto and related games had been cited.

The statistics had a direct financial impact on the commission with problem gambling services funded out of a levy applied to the gambling industry.