A Pokie Question

Pokie machines… a questionable social vice or good fun. Regardless of your point of view, they are certainly profitable. Palmerston North City and Ashhurst spent $4,623,896.06 on them in 2017.  That’s $57.70 per person in a city of 80,000.

My question is “who is spending all this money?” everyone or one bloke.

The department of internal affairs (DIA) state that 20% of the population never gamble and between 0.3 – 1.8% have a real problem with it. So either we have 64,000 people spending $72 a year or 1,440 (at 1.8%) people spending $3,211 a year. This is an investigation into the subject using GIS.

Here’s are the locations for the city:


Nothing on the south side, although there are bars on the south side of town, and that’s also were the students are.

I’d tentatively say that students are not the biggest gamblers in Palmy on the basis of this map alone.

As for the CBD these venues are not totally central, many are on main roads outside of the ring road. The square, George street and Broadway are the main entertainment areas and none of these venues are on them. These sites would be considered easy places to park rather than prime locations; they are also a little cheaper.


The city has 23 venues hosting 322 machines according to DIA and a significant number are in the industrial area to the north. This is where stuff gets made. Machine shops, distribution centers, auto repairs etc… There are quite a few mid range jobs here, ranging from auto-mechanics to steel works.


I was asked to look into this by the city and have only had time for a very cursory investigation using location and google. I would tentatively conclude that the venues hosting pokie machines have a target audience and are specifically looking for passing traffic. 

Another interesting facet is that no Pokie venues appear in Kelvin Grove, which still gets good traffic volume but scores much lower on the deprivation index. A lower dep index score  essentially means there is less hardship, people have more cars, higher house prices and higher income.


This intuitively leads me to assume that the average spend per person is likely to be nearer the $3211 a year mark. That’s an assumption based largely on the similarities I see spatially with the venues.

  • Easy to park
  • High deprivation areas
  • Similar types of establishment hosting the machines – there are many more locations they could be hosted if there was a market for them. I’m just not seeing that.

It’s an interesting question and I’ve only briefly looked into this. If you have something to add please by all means let me know.


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