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A Quick Guide to Gambling in New Zealand

There’s a lot you might not know about gambling online and offline on our fair isle - so here’s some quick and interesting info for you!

A Quick Guide to Gambling in New Zealand

Some Stats:

The amount of money spent annually on gambling, and the number of players in New Zealand is on the rise. In the last few years, these numbers have risen dramatically, and gambling is proving to be a major player in the New Zealand economy. The total amount spent nearly doubled in the 6 years since 2010, and that figure is projected to rise.

Our Favorite Games:

Most Kiwis prefer to play pokies, also known as slots. This is probably due to its cultural similarities with Australia, where pokies have long been a favorite among gamblers. Also, pokies tend to be the easiest games to play and offer the chance to win huge payouts and prizes. For years, New Zealanders have been winning millions of dollars playing on old school pokie machines in pubs, bars, and clubs. In recent times players have moved on to playing their favorite slot games online. New technology has given the locals the chance to play the latest, most innovative games, and Kiwis are hoping to win even bigger by playing some of the best progressive jackpot games in the world.

We Love Online Gambling:

New Zealanders, much like other countries, have fast taken to the world of online gambling and us Kiwis are loving the option to gamble from the comfort of their own home. Spending a weekend at a casino was always a local favorite, and now New Zealanders simply can’t resist the chance to earn some real money and play their favorite pokies at some of the world’s best online casinos. For Kiwis who prefer to only play online at New Zealand based casinos, there’s some good news. The country has some terrific online casinos, which allow secure and safe deposits in NZD, and offer great bonuses to local players. More and more local online casinos are springing up, offering players the chance to really get their money’s worth. For the younger generation, mobile gambling has become to default way to bet online. Casino apps have become quite a craze, and almost half the smartphones in New Zealand have some sort of casino or sports betting app. Online gambling can be a bit tricky for New Zealand residents. This is due to tight regulations regarding offshore online casinos, and a few do not offer their services to residents of New Zealand. Also, many online casinos don’t accept the local currency, the New Zealand Dollar, and residents have to deal with transaction fees and exchange rates. However, online gambling in New Zealand is legal for residents and is fast becoming a favorite national pastime. Currently, New Zealand has a national average of online gamblers similar to the US. In recent years, many online casinos have decided to cash in on the country's ever growing love for gaming, and many online gambling sites welcome players from New Zealand with open arms, offering bonuses and accepting deposits in NZD. They also offer pokies and games which will be familiar to Kiwis who use pokie machines in the local pubs. Nowadays, as far as offshore online casinos go, they almost all accept players from New Zealand, and residents can rest assured that all their favorite pokies are available to them online. It’s important to be cautious when depositing money, as not all casinos are reliable and safe. There are tons of websites which offer great reviews for New Zealanders, and monitor which ones are secure and trustworthy. The rise in online gambling has also boosted sales for the New Zealand national lottery, i.e. TAB Lotto. The chance to purchase a ticket from your phone or desktop has greatly increased TAB’s earnings.

...And Also, Offline Gambling:

New Zealand is the proud home to 6 land-based casinos. Although this number may seem small, these Casinos are highly regarded for their service and have become a tourist attraction for many avid gamers. These casinos all have stunning venues, thousands of pokie machines, a full range of table games, and terrific rewards and bonuses. It’s no surprise that many Kiwis are flocking to these places, looking for a great night out and of course, the chance to win big at the casino's jackpots. The minimum age to play at a casino in New Zealand is 20, but some are known to be lenient and allow over 18s, as long as they show valid photo ID. Auckland’s SkyCity Casino, for example, is located in one of the tallest Sky Tower’s in the world and is well regarded for its glamour and luxury. A longtime favorite of both local residents and tourists, It has 1600 gaming machines and 100 different table games. It also offers high-stakes poker games and many restaurants. There’s much to love in New Zealand, when it comes to gambling - and it seems we all agree on that!

Gambling Regulations Around The World

Gambling is a trillion dollar industry worldwide, however, many countries have a vastly different approach towards the ancient pastime.

Many countries, particularly in Europe where gambling has been a part of the culture for millennia, embrace gambling as a major source of tax revenue. Other countries view it as a social menace and have taken steps to criminalize it entirely. Even in Europe, gambling is heavily regulated, mainly to ensure all profits are taxed properly and no black-market betting is allowed to thrive. The huge variation in different countries has greatly affected the online gambling industry. Previously, players were aware of local restrictions and everyone knew which bookmakers were licensed. Nowadays gambling is starting to become a single market as many casinos operate worldwide. However, changes in legislation has largely prevented casinos from operating globally, as some countries prefer to only allow local casinos to offer their services online, and others have outlawed online gambling completely.

The UK

UK Gambling Regulations

In the UK, online gambling is legal and it’s regulated by the UK Gambling Commission. The industry is huge in the UK, and local players have a particularly strong affinity with sports betting. All local companies must be licenses, and any foreign company who wishes to offer its services in the country must be whitelisted by the commission. Various jurisdictions are whitelisted by default and many major gambling companies operate in these areas to avoid heavy taxes. The country has been heralded for its top-notch legislation. Other countries, especially the US have very complex laws and it's easy for citizens not to understand the legal status of online gambling.

In contrast, since the passing of the Gambling Act in 2005, the UK has a very strict set of laws, and a clear legal framework. The whitelisting method is slight controversial and the commision has been accused of insufficient research, however, the UK is regarded as being of the safest places to gamble, both online and in land-based casinos.


Turkey gambling Regulations

The Turkish government has aggressively tried to eradicate gambling entirely from the country. Prior to 1997, land-based casinos were a billion dollar industry in the country, but since then many laws have been passed and casino gambling is now an illegal pastime in Turkey. All forms of online gambling are illegal and in 2013 the Government implemented severe penalties as a sanction for illicit online gambling. In addition, anyone caught operating a casino or facilitating gambling in any manner, can face heavy fines and even imprisonment. Currently, Turkey has some of the strictest penalties for illicit gambling out of any secular country. Most foreign online casinos do not accept players from Turkey, and they don’t accept the Turkish Lira as payment for fear of legal repercussions.

However, there is still a thriving underground gambling scene. Despite the strict regulations, many Turkish players access online casinos using VPNs and Proxies, and they use Bitcoin and digital wallets to avoid being traced. Furthermore, since the government is mainly after the operators rather than the players, many Turkish gamblers feel they won’t be penalized just for playing. There are websites for Turks which explain where to gamble and which casinos have the best games etc., Bahis Bets is currently the most famous Turkish betting site. There is only one company,  Milli Piyango which is allowed to offer lotteries and KENO games and some sports betting. The company is currently run by the State, but several private bidders have tried to buy ownership, and should they do so, they will probably open an online platform.


Australia Gambling Regulations

Australia has the highest percentage of adult gamblers anywhere in the world, and many of the country's politicians and leaders view it as a major social problem. Clubs, sports bars, and pubs are all filled with fruit machines and pokies, and gambling is a major part of the local culture. As such, it has been very difficult for the government to criminalize it, instead it is very heavily regulated and controlled. There are several land-based casinos in Australia, including the world famous Crown Casino, located in the heart of Melbourne’s business district. Pokie machines and casinos earn billions of dollars each year in revenue, and the government taxes these profits extremely highly.

The reason for the high tax paid by operators is to compensate for individual winnings being tax free. Land based gambling laws are under the jurisdiction of the State, rather than the Federal government, but in 2001 the Commonwealth Parliament passed a bill which prohibited foreign sportsbooks and online casinos from operating in Australia. However, the bill only targeted the companies themselves and Australians cannot be charged for betting in foreign-based online casinos. As such, many foreign casinos do offer their services in Australia, and accept AUD as a form of payment.

New Zealand

New Zealand Gambling Regulations

Despite its low population, New Zealand still has a multi-billion dollar gambling industry. The Island is home to 6 land-based casinos, who all enjoy tremendous success and revenue. Some of the country's casinos have become tourist destinations for avid gamers from around the globe. There also thousand of poker machines across the country, and their rake in record profits each year. Gambling is legal in New Zealand, but it is heavily regulated by Department of Internal Affairs.

The government has a fairly lackadaisical attitude towards gambling, especially when compared to the neighbouring Australia. This is mainly because gambling operators are expected to reinvest a considerable percentage of their earnings into the country's infrastructure and social programs. In 2003, the New Zealand Government passed the Gambling Act..The content of the act was mainly aimed at regulating the activities of online casino operators and it doesn’t particularly affect individual players. The Act did not explicitly outlaw online gambling at any foreign casino, and currently New Zealanders are well within their rights to bet in casinos online.

Legal guide for NZ online gambling

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.

CasinoKiwi Round-Up

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.

*This article should not be considered legal advice. Local legislation, restrictions and enforcement are subject to change. In addition, we have no responsibility to update this page for events or circumstances occurring after the date of its initial publication.

** This article should not be considered as tax advice. Tax is applied and calculated personally, is subject to change, and may be interpreted retroactively. Any information provided herein, is for general knowledge only and may not be relied on. We urge you to seek advice from a tax professional.





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Living in Auckland, Noah's a real enthusiast of both the bright lights of local casinos and the exciting world of online gaming. He's been sharing his honest, straightforward game reviews for over ten years. When he's not deep in gaming strategy, Noah loves to relax by fishing in the Hauraki Gulf, bringing a true Kiwi spirit to everything he does.