Online gambling in New Zealand

Online gambling in New Zealand has become increasingly more popular the last couple of years. Although most gambling critics believed that the online casino industry would fall apart because of flaws in dealings of the Totalizator Agency Board and the New Zealand Racing Board, the exact opposite has happened.

The increased use of mobile devices to gamble online with among players, the availability of VPNs to access international casinos, and COVID-19, all played their part in the extreme increase in online gambling among New Zealand punters and other casino players across the globe.

In comparison to other countries, the online casino industry is still relatively small in New Zealand compared to the rest of the world, but our casino experts believe this trend will soon change massively.

In this online gambling in New Zealand guide, we will discuss everything there is to know about the matter in great detail, in an easy-to-understand way. We just want to assure you that you can perfectly gamble online legally as Kiwi player, but warn you beforehand about some common pitfalls, and explain you how to avoid these.

By Amelia Smith - Updated 13/02/2024 - Estimated reading time: 10 minutes.

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Online gambling in New Zealand

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The History of Gambling in New Zealand

In New Zealand, all forms of gambling are regulated by the Department of Internal Affairs, also called the Te Tari Taiwhenua, and gambling companies should always donate a portion of their profits to the state and organizations that help counter gambling addiction.

Bookmaking or the act of betting on sports matches has been illegal in New Zealand since 1920. However, in 1961 the Totalizator Agency Board was founded, which allowed betting on horse racing on-course.

In 1877 the so-called Art Union was founded by the Otago Art Society, which individuals and organizations could use as a way to raise funds for charitative and cultural projects. However, the prizes were so small, that many Kiwis went to participate in the Australian Tattersall’s Lottery instead.

As a result, the Second Labor Government reviewed the New Zealand lotteries in the late 1950s and in 1961 they introduced and marketed the Golden Kiwi Lottery where substantially higher prizes could be won.

Since 1987, the New Zealand Lotteries Commission has been in charge of the National Lottery and nowadays one can also buy Instant Kiwi scratch cards and participate in daily Keno events. It was also in this year when slot machines, also known as pokies, were installed in hotels, bars and cafes. The maximum jackpots and return to player ratios were and still are regulated nowadays, making sure the odds aren’t too much in favor of the casino or the gambling company operating the machines.

Since 2009, all these pokies must contain an information button, display or HUD, which tells the player exactly how long they have been playing for, how much they have lost during their current playing session, and a pop-up will be displayed every once in a while, suggesting players to take a break.

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Land-based Casinos in New Zealand

New Zealand flag gambling

There are only 6 land-based casinos in New Zealand, all of which are operated by state-controlled companies. These 6 land-based casinos across New Zealand are:

Dunedin Casino

Christchurch Casino

SkyCity Auckland

SkyCity Hamilton

SkyCity Queenstown

SkyCity Wharf Casino

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Online Gambling in New Zealand

In 2003 the Gambling Act came into place in New Zealand, which paved the way for online casino gambling. Basically the new law combined the Gaming and Lotteries Act 1988 and the Casino Control Act 1990. Horse racing still remained part of a separate Racing Act.

Although one might think that these laws focused on the negative side effects of gambling, it actually focused more on consumer protection as it required casinos to set betting, loss, and playtime limits for their players (in the case of online casinos).

In essence, the New Zealand Lottery Commission, the state-controlled company that has a monopoly over online lottery sales ever since 2008, is the only company that is licensed in New Zealand that is able to provide games of chance. However, online pokies, poker, casino games, and sports betting cannot be offered by gambling companies that operate solely online.

This doesn’t take away the fact that Kiwis can legally access offshore online casino websites as there is no law in place that states they cannot visit these and/or play for real money at these sites. In short, New Zealand allows online gambling, as long as offshore gambling companies don’t explicitly advertise to Kiwi players.

The New Zealand government regularly fines offshore casinos, bookmakers, and other gambling companies that advertise to New Zealand players. Kiwi players that visit and/or play at offshore casinos won’t ever get a fine, though, and it is completely legal for them to do so.

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Only Safe and Reliable Online Casinos are Allowed

Only licensed casinos that offer sufficient consumer protection are allowed to market their offerings to Kiwi players. These gambling websites have to adhere to strict rules and take their responsibility when it comes to problem gambling. Obviously, they have to have a valid casino license in place in order to legally accept players from New Zealand in the first place and allow them to wager real money.

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Future Developments in Online Gambling in New Zealand

As far as our casino experts are concerned, nobody knows exactly how the online casino industry in New Zealand will develop and how long it will take regulators to step in and change the online gambling ecosystem in the country.

As for now, we can only assume that playing at regulated offshore casino websites is legal for Kiwi players, as long as these casinos don’t actively advertise to New Zealand players. We expect the New Zealand online casino industry to mature over time and that it will be heavily regulated in the near future, may offshore gambling companies acquire New Zealand casino licenses or the New Zealand state decide to privatize the sector.

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Things to Keep in Mind When Online Gambling in New Zealand

Nowadays it’s possible to gamble from your PC, laptop, smartphone, and tablet. This means that we can literally gamble online from anywhere and with any device we want. As gambling should be a form of entertainment only and not turn into an addiction, we will cover some things to keep in mind when online gambling in New Zealand to make sure you keep yourself safe and don’t lose more money than you intended to play with.

Always Check the True RTP of Pokies

Many unlicensed gambling websites and overseas online casinos with easy-to-obtain licenses will offer you the chance to play online casino games for free in demo mode. These free online casino games often pay out more than their real money counterparts, giving you a false idea of how much you could win playing for real money.

For this reason, we always recommend checking the true RTP or return to player ratio at the website of the casino software provider - the company that developed the pokie or other casino game you’re playing.

Always Check the License of Overseas Casino Websites

There are thousands of online casinos nowadays, most of which are unlicensed or that are licensed in countries where casino licenses are extremely easy to obtain, with little or no oversight from any gaming authority, gambling commission, or gaming control board.

We therefore always recommend checking if the casino you want to play at has a valid license from a reputable source such as the Malta Gaming Authority, Gibraltar Gaming Commission, UK Gambling Commission, Kahnawake Gaming Commission, and other reputable casino license issuers.

Avoid Casinos With One-Click Top-Ups

Whenever you’ve made a deposit at an online casino by credit card, the casino will offer you the so-called one-click top-up feature. Never accept this as it will become very easy to just top up your account by credit card with a single mouse click, leading to very high credit card bills.

Keep Your Credit Card and Personal Details Safe

Only gamble at reliable, reputable, and licensed online casinos that are protected by SSL-encryption technology. You can recognize this technology by looking at the address bar of the casino and the green padlock in front of it. We recommend lowering your credit card limits just to be sure.

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Gambling at Overseas Casinos as Kiwi Player

It is perfectly legal to gamble at offshore casinos as Kiwi players, but you won’t be protected by any New Zealand consumer rights or laws. Although most online casinos accept players from New Zealand, this doesn’t mean New Zealand laws apply at these gambling websites.

Note that New Zealand-based companies aren’t allowed to offer casino games like pokies, roulette, blackjack, and other forms of games of chance. The only online gambling websites and activities that are protected by New Zealand laws are Lotto NZ and the New Zealand Racing Board (TAB).

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Online Gambling in New Zealand - Bottom Line

The New Zealand Authorities know perfectly well that online gambling is rife in the country and that offshore casinos are trying to cater to the needs of Kiwi players in the best possible way they can.

However, for now, the government has a strict monopoly in place as in which companies can offer their gambling services to New Zealand natives and is trying to figure out how they are going to counter things like problem gambling and money laundry.

Furthermore, they also want to make sure players are protected in the same way as they normally would as consumers when buying products or services from ‘’normal’’ companies.

The New Zealand online casino industry might be privatized in the near future, allowing offshore casinos to obtain New Zealand gaming licenses and to pay tax to the New Zealand government in a similar fashion as what has recently happened in the Netherlands.

For the time being, New Zealand players can play at licensed offshore casinos without having to worry about any penalties or repercussions. If this situation changes in the (near) future, you can rest assured we will update this page accordingly.

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Online Gambling in New Zealand FAQ

As online gambling is becoming increasingly popular in New Zealand, yet remains a controversial subject, many visitors of our website have questions regarding the matter. In this section of our Online Gambling in New Zealand guide, we will answer the most frequently asked questions we have received from our visitors by email over the years.

💡 Is online gambling legal in New Zealand?

No, online gambling is illegal in New Zealand unless it is authorized by the Gambling Act 2003. Playing at offshore casinos like listed on our website is allowed. There are some types of gambling that are specifically prohibited under the Remote Interactive Gambling Act, though. The Lotto NZ and New Zealand Racing Board (TAB) are the only ways to legally gamble online in New Zealand, where the player is protected by New Zealand Law.

For more detailed information regarding the matter, please visit this government-owned website.

💡 What is the best online casino in New Zealand?

After thorough inspections and comparisons by our casino experts, we canconclude that is the best online casino for New Zealand players, followed by Yeti Casino, Royal Panda Casino, LeoVegas, and 888 Casino. All listed in our top 5 table.

💡 Do you have to pay tax on gambling winnings in New Zealand?

Yes, in New Zealand you are required to pay a 29% gambling tax on your net winnings from games of chance. It is not completely clear if this also is the case when playing online casinos, for online poker this is the case.

💡 Can you use sportsbet in New Zealand?

Yes, you can bet on your favorite sports teams and matches in New Zealand and Australia as long as you bet in NZD at licensed offshore online sportsbook websites.

💡 Who regulates online gambling in New Zealand?

Ever since the Gambling Act 2003 passed, the Gambling Commission New Zealand hears all casino licensing applications and is in charge of the enforcement of decisions made by the Secretary of Internal Affairs in relation to pokies, horse racing, and any other form of gambling activities.

Author: Amelia Smith

Amelia Smith

Amelia Smith knows a lot about different areas of gambling. She's been our main writer for most things since 2019. She spoke at a big conference in London in 2022 and has been recognized at several industry events.

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Article published 29/12/2018

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