New Zealand Betting Markets Go Wild for Pokémon Go

Tia Winter | 4 July 2016

Not even New ZePokémon Goaland’s betting markets have escaped the Pokémon Go craze unscathed. The country’s bookmakers were offering wagers on the game even before its July launch.

Some of the early wagers offered included those based on the game’s popularity. Punters could get 2.01 that the game would be iTunes’ most popular download within three months, and 1.05 that Pokémon Go would attract more users than social media platform Twitter.

A Brand New Betting Market

It’s not just the popularity of the game that has inspired a flurry of activity in local betting markets. Punters have also been placing bets on where Pokémon will or won’t be found.

Bookmaker Sportsbet offered odds of 5.50 that the animated creatures would show up in Melbourne’s Royal Botanical Gardens, and 6.00 that they would show up in Hyde Park. They also went 3.50 that no Pokémon would be found at the Australian War Memorial. Sportsbet spokesperson Will Byrne said that the bookmakers were tipping Pokémon Go to surpass Twitter this year, and even land-based casinos have been capitalising on the popularity of this game. 

A Smash Hit from Nintendo

The game has been developed by Niantic and backed by Nintendo and uses mobile device cameras and GPS systems to place Pokémon creatures in players’ immediate surroundings. Players then attempt to capture the creatures, train them, and use them in fights against other players’ creatures.

The response to the game has been unprecedented. Pokémon Go became the most searched term on Google, and the most downloaded game on the iTunes and Google Play stores. It also made Nintendo’s stock skyrocket.

However, recent reports indicate that the number of the game’s players has already decreased. The initial 25 million has dropped to 22 million, despite the huge number of downloads still happening on a daily basis. Also, after revealing that the game won’t actually be all that profitable, Nintendo saw the sharpest fall in its stock since 1990.

Not All Fun and Games

The game has also drawn criticisms from various sides. Museums and other landmark sites, such as the Auschwitz holocaust memorial, have had to ban the hunting of Pokémon on the premises.

Safety concerns have also been raised, following players being lured into muggings and robberies, players being involved in motor vehicle accidents, and players falling off cliffs, all while chasing Pokémon on their mobile devices. 

Still, this doesn’t seem to have deterred Kiwi punters who are still flocking to local bookmakers to place bets on the game, and its almost certain that online casinos are going to find a way to cash in on the craze soon too.