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Gambling rises to record levels

The reopening of the Christchurch casino and aggressive marketing resulted in New Zealanders gambling in record numbers in the year to June 2012, the Problem Gambling Foundation says.

Figures released by the Department of Internal Affairs showed more than $16 billion in bets were placed at the TAB, on pokies, casino games and lotteries.

The total amount lost by New Zealanders - the $16 billion spent less payouts - went up 3 per cent to $2.068 billion, The New Zealand Herald reported.

Internal Affairs said the increase was due to the reopening of the Christchurch casino after the February 2011 earthquake and growth across Sky City casinos.

Problem Gambling Foundation chief executive Graeme Ramsey said people tended to gamble more in tough economic times but said Sky City marketing had a part to play in that rise.

"They're clearly looking to increase their revenue."

Internal Affairs Minister Chris Tremain agreed people gambled more when times were tough, but said gambling losses had fallen since the previous record of $2.04 billion was set in 2004 once inflation was taken into account.