More Kiwis using internet to gamble as online sales surge

Instant Kiwi has had a nearly 40 per cent surge in its online sales as more New Zealanders use the internet to gamble.

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The scratch cards expanded online about two years ago – but experts fear it could be causing harm. Source: 1 NEWS

The scratch cards expanded to online nearly two years ago and the Problem Gambling Foundation foundation fears it's doing more harm.

Scratchie ads bring back bad memories for a reformed scratchie addict, who spoke to 1 News on the condition of anonymity, saying "every time I think about it, I think what it will do to my kids if I did it again and how hurt they would be."

Instant Kiwi games got government approval to go online in late 2017.

What started out as 12 games has now grown to 37 and they attract more than a thousand new players each month.

Andree Froude of the Problem Gambling Foundation says they are too accessible.

"They are a continuous form of gambling, you push a button then get a result, they mimic pokie machines, that's the most harmful of gambling in New Zealand," Mr Froude said.

As the amount of players has increased, so has the amount spent on games, going from $21.6 million in 2018 to $29.8 million last year.

There's a fifty dollar a week spending limit, but the former addict knows even that's enough to hurt families.

"So many more people are going to go in debt, families are going to get screwed up - it's not worth it."

The Problem Gambling Foundation is calling for more restrictions on Instant Kiwi Online.

"We really want to see stronger consumer protection and we want to see restrictions on advertising," Ms Froude said.

A review is currently underway on all online gambling, with Raj Krishnan of the Department of Internal Affairs saying it is progressing.

"We are in the process of analysing the submissions we received and providing advice to our minister, that review should be heading towards cabinet mid-year," Mr Krishnan said.

The Ministry of Health says it's too soon to tell if these games are causing harm.

More than 11,000 New Zealanders seek help for a gambling problem each year.