Online gambling has become a massive industry over the past three decades. The introduction of digital gambling in the early 1990s was an innovative breakthrough that sparked a mass surge of digital business which has resulted in an industry with thousands of online casinos in operation worldwide.
In some countries, governments have embraced this wonderful new income stream, but others have rested on a more conservative approach and have either restricted the market or banned it altogether.
New Zealand represents a mixed bag when it comes to gambling. While land-based gambling has been legalised and regulated in the country, online gambling has not received quite the same response, however, Kiwis can play pokies and other casino games online legally, as long as the operator abides by the laws of New Zealand. We will have a look in-depth as to what this all means in this guide.
History of Gambling in New Zealand
New Zealand has a steeped history in gambling that extends back as far as the mid-1800s. This first form of betting was done on horseraces at the track. It found a big following and certain innovations helped the pastime along. George Julius’s Automatic Totalisator was introduced to the track to help spectators keep current on the state of play in the race. It revolutionised the racing industry, making betting a much easier task. These are still used around the world today but are now commonly known as Tote Boards.
Most other forms of gambling were frowned upon in New Zealand until 1961 when the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) was established to provide licenses for gambling in the country. This was a big step in the change in the gambling climate. In 1980 a rejig of the gambling laws saw greater leniency towards gambling, which paved the way for the first land-based casino to open in 1994.
It was around this time that Online Gambling was introduced to the world through Microgaming, however, this was a technology that New Zealand was not yet ready to deal with. It wasn’t until 2003 that definitive lines were drawn in the sand. These laws were then reviewed and amended in 2005 and 2015 again.
Current Standings on the Gambling laws
The Department of Internal Affairs introduced the Gambling Commission to handle the regulation of all gambling practices in 2003, at the same time the official Gambling Act of 2003 was published. The blanket law was that all gambling practices would remain illegal within the parameters of New Zealand unless expressly condoned by the government. It is the Gambling Commission’s job to issue licenses and ensure that the conditions of each license are kept and that the laws of the land are enforced.
The Gambling Act of 2003 had seven primary objectives:
- Control the gambling industry’s growth
- Minimise the harm done by problem gambling
- Authorise some gambling and prohibit the rest
- Promote responsible gambling
- Work to cut-out criminal activities associated with gambling
- Ensure fairness in the industry
- Ensure that proceeds from licensing are used for the community
The full work of the Gambling Commission is therefore to:
- Handle licensing
- Review agreements between casino operators and casino license holders
- Handle all complaints regarding class 4 gambling
- Specifies and revokes conditions for licensing
- Is a liaison between the industry and the government on matters of problem gambling
There are now five legally regulated land-based casinos in New Zealand, offering a mix of casino games, including pokies, poker, blackjack, roulette, and more. Both the lottery and sports betting online have been legalised too and is governed by the Lotteries Commission and Totalisator Agency Board (TAB), respectively. This leaves only online casino gambling as the black sheep without a framework in New Zealand.
Online Gambling in New Zealand
In accordance with the Gambling Act of 2003, online casino gambling was deemed illegal within the borders of New Zealand. Nothing has changed in the legislation since then, but many people are confused as to what that means for Kiwi online gamblers.
The law specifically talks about companies operating within the boundaries of the country. A gambling operation may not use the geographical area of New Zealand as its base, but Kiwis are not banned from playing at online casinos that are based outside of the country. This means that players can sign up at remote casinos in Europe and other regions of the world without fearing backlash from the government.
While there is a silver lining for New Zealanders, there are some drawbacks about these laws.
- No advertising of specials and bonuses: Unlike in Europe, Kiwis may miss out on specials and bonuses at online casinos because it is illegal for remote operators to advertise within the borders of New Zealand. Kiwis must search out appropriate casinos and promotions on their own.
- Regulatory Safety: Because online gambling is illegal in New Zealand, there is no recourse for unfair practices within the country. Kiwis will have to take any grievances to the casino’s local regulator as a course of action. For this reason, we at CasinoKiwi always ensure that the casinos we promote are fully licensed in a reputable jurisdiction.
The climate surrounding online gambling does not seem like it is set to change any time in the near future, but as long as Kiwis practice caution with their casino selections, there is very little to worry about. In fact, New Zealand casinos offer some great provisions for Kiwis, including:
- Provision for betting in NZ$ currency.
- Exclusive Kiwi Casino Bonus offers.
- Support of New Zealand friendly payment solutions like POLi, Skrill, Neteller, and Paysafecard.
The above is proof that some hospitable casinos will go through great lengths to make sure that service to New Zealand is as convenient for you as possible.
Must I pay taxes on my gambling winnings in New Zealand?
If you are a casual gambler, you need not pay taxes on your winnings, as gambling is seen as a recreational activity by the government. If you are deemed to be a professional gambler, then you will be subject to taxation.
Can I play in other currencies as a Kiwi if the casino does not support NZ$?
Yes, you can play in other currencies at online casinos, but you will be penalised by currency exchange costs, especially when withdrawing the funds back to your Kiwi bank.
Will the government block me from receiving my winnings from offshore casinos?
No, the government allows New Zealand residents to play at overseas casinos, so there is no need for them to block your winnings.
Can I claim Bonuses as a New Zealand gambler at offshore sites?
Yes, some Kiwi-focused casinos will offer exclusive bonuses for players using New Zealand Dollar currency.
At CasinoKiwi, we acknowledge the risks for New Zealanders seeking to play at offshore casinos. Our very reason for existence is to make sure that the online casino experience is the best it can be. For that reason, we recommend that you play only at casinos promoted by us. They have been tried and tested for their service excellence. Be assured that each operator supported by us is well licensed in a reputable gambling jurisdiction for your safety.