COVID-19: Community projects missing out on pokie funds during lockdown - official

The head of the gaming machine association is warning hundreds of community projects will suffer because no money is going into pokies during the COVID-19 lockdown.

Figures from the Department of Internal Affairs show nearly $1 billion was recorded in gaming machine profits over the past year.

But Gaming Machine Association chair Peter Dengate-Thrush said under lockdown, householders are taking their dollars to online gambling sites based overseas - which means less money for community initiatives.

Dengate-Thrush said there are about 20,000 grants each year for projects around the country as a result of money spent on pokies.

He said the lack of pokie activity also means less support available for problem gamblers.

New Zealand has one of the lowest rates of problem gambling in the world - about .2 percent of the adult population - but that's still too many people, he said.