Gambling laws New Zealand

gambling laws new zeeland

New Zealand is an exciting gambling destination. The population is not highly dense, yet the local audience has been booming in the last years thanks to the rapidly developing technologies and the fact that gambling has always been a common pastime in the country.

The History of Gambling in New Zealand

Gambling entered New Zealand with the first European settlers. While it was considered illegal in the early days, it was still widely accepted and practiced. Around the 1900s, gambling laws slowly began to take a more modern shape. The industry grew steadily for decades, and in 1993, the first brick-and-mortar gambling establishments appeared. Nowadays, NZ casino activities are moving more towards the Internet realm due to the ever-changing dynamics of today’s society.

Timeline of Gambling Law Introduction in New Zealand:

1835 The country embraces gambling legally for the first time by allowing horserace betting.
1881 -1932 Pressure from the numerous Protestant community is growing and the state outlaws gambling with the introduction of the Gaming and Lotteries Act until as late as the 1970s.
1932 Only state-run lottery is legalized.
1961 The Golden Kiwi lottery first appears.
1971 The Racing Act 1971 officially legalizes horse and greyhound race betting.
1977 A major breakthrough gives companies the right to open gambling businesses. The state legalizes gaming machines, charity gambling, instant games, and different competition formats.
1987 New Zealand welcomes the game of lotto, which, in less than two decades, will conquer 67 % of the local population. Gaming machines (pokies) appear for the first time.
1990 Land-based casinos become legal through the Casino Control Act
2003 Six brick-and-mortar casinos are inaugurated: one in Christchurch, Auckland, Dunedin, and Hamilton, and two in Queenstown.
2003 The Gambling Act 2003 is introduced in an attempt to regulate the rapidly expanding sector.

Current Gambling Laws in New Zealand

new zealand gambling


Land-based casino gambling, sports betting, and racetrack betting are currently legal in New Zealand. The country’s main piece of legislation that regulates the industry is the Gambling Act 2003 and its amendments. The Racing Act 2003, in turn, regulates sports betting. According to the two legislative decrees, you can legally bet on the following types of games and activities:

  • Lottery (monopoly of Lotto New Zealand)
  • Bingo or “housie,” as the game is familiar in Australia and New Zealand
  • Casino games (including live dealer games and poker)
  • The so-called “pokies” (gambling automats like slots, video poker machines)
  • Instant games
  • Scratch cards
  • Keno
  • Sports betting (monopoly of the New Zealand Totalizator Agency Board (TAB))

In addition, the country limits different gambling formats according to the amount of turnover as follows:

Class 1: Small games of luck – these are the country’s only gambling formats that can be conducted by private individuals without the need to have a license. The maximum turnover/prize size should be NZD$ 500 (USD 333).

Class 2: Gambling for charity and fundraising purposes – the maximum allowed prize value is between NZD$ 500 (USD 333) and NZD$ 5,000 (USD 3,325). The turnover must be higher than NZD$ 500 (USD 333) and lower than NZD$ 25,000 (USD 16,625). Class 2 gambling does not require a license, but individuals are forbidden from conducting it. Only collectives like NGOs and similar entities are allowed to organize it.

Class 3: Only companies are allowed to conduct Class 3 gambling. The total value of the prizes should exceed NZD$ 5,000 (USD 3,325). Class 3 gambling requires a license.

Class 4: This is gambling using gaming machines, or the so-called “pokies.” Only companies are allowed to conduct it upon the possession of a valid license.

Online gambling is illegal in New Zealand. However, local players are allowed to play at offshore online casino websites. Such an approach often exposes New Zealand residents to high threat because many of these gambling platforms are not regulated and do not possess valid licenses.

The New Zealand Paradox of Online Gambling

online gambling new zeeland


Online casino games in New Zealand are forbidden when played at domestic Internet casinos. The only exception concerns online lottery and online sports betting. The latter are regulated by the Racing Board and the Lotteries Commission, which are allowed to issue licenses to online operators.

To give you a clearer idea, the current regulation outlaws “remote interactive gambling.” This means you cannot play via phone, tablet, desktop PC, or any other type of device connected to the Internet. However, the grand paradox lies in the fact that “remote interactive gambling” is not forbidden if conducted at offshore Internet casinos.

The New Zealand Department of the Internal Affairs is cited by various sources to have stated, “Only the gambling that is conducted in New Zealand is subject to the provisions of the Act. If any element of the gambling is organized or conducted in, or from New Zealand, it will be caught by the Gambling Act.”

In other words, if you are a New Zealand resident, you can freely enjoy the products and services of online casino websites based abroad. In fact, many highly secure and reputable websites accept players from the land of the kiwis.

Beware of  Scams

Unfortunately, there are quite a few scam operators as well, so you need to be extra careful. Always make sure the gambling websites you are approaching have valid international licenses and check in detail all provided security measures.

Now, the good part is that if you are a New Zealand resident, your potential online casino winnings will not be taxed. This is great news for everyone who is up for winning big. You should only make sure you understand your select gambling provider’s withdrawal requirements and procedures.

In Conclusion

It seems that New Zealand is quite benevolent towards the most common gambling activities. Small stakes social gambling is not frowned upon, especially if the money is raised for good causes like different charities. At the same time, the state is obviously trying to limit the potentially harmful effects of addictive gambling and prevent fraudulent activities by imposing stringent regulations.

The fact that land-based gambling is strictly limited to a few authorized establishments speaks volumes about New Zealand’s attempts to keep the nation’s interest in gambling within reasonable limits. At the same time, international online gambling is not prohibited, so players have a wide choice of modern-day, interactive digital casino formats. Because of all this, it is reasonable to conclude that New Zealand is a safe place for cool-headed, recreational gamblers.

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