Gambling is one of the oldest pastimes in the world and has been immensely popular in New Zealand for hundreds of years. The pastime has, over the years, undergone much controversy and strict regulation, but these days, New Zealanders are able to legally participate in a variety of different legal gambling forms that are all ultimately regulated by the Department of Internal Affairs.
The forms of legal gambling allowed include all types of sports betting, betting on horseraces, playing lotteries, placing bets and playing at land based casinos, playing pokies and playing at internationally based online and mobile casinos.
New Zealand has a fairly liberal view of gambling and, compared to many other countries, has gambling laws that are much easier to understand. Since the Department of Internal Affairs oversees all legal gambling activities, players in New Zealand can find much less confusion as to who regulates what.
A Brief History of Gambling Laws
In the early 1800s, New Zealanders primarily bet on horseracing, which saw the beginning of the rise in popularity of various forms of gambling. A New Zealander by the name of George Julius invented the automatic totalisator, more commonly known as the tote board, in 1913 which is the board displaying which position a horse is in during a race. This invention made a huge impact on horseracing betting which is still seen today.
There were many periods over the years where gambling of various forms was prohibited, but today, legal gambling in New Zealand brings in huge revenue. An incredibly large portion of the population who are of legal age participate in some form of gambling or another. All of the legal public gambling entities must donate a portion of their profits, which is then used to better and uplift communities.
Today there are a small amount of land based casinos that legally operate, but New Zealanders must play at internationally based online or mobile casinos if they wish to play at a virtual casino. New Zealand is yet to legally allow New Zealanders to play at New Zealand based online or mobile casinos.
Regulating Bodies of Gambling in New Zealand
The Gambling Commission under the Department of Internal Affairs is the regulating body of the legal gambling industry in New Zealand. The Gambling Commission was officially established in 2003, and is the authority that issues licenses to casinos and gambling entities.
It is the Gambling Commission that specifies what the conditions for licensing casinos and gambling entities are, and is the authority that holds the power to approve any agreements made between the casino operators and the holders of the casino venue licenses.
New Zealand’s Gambling Act of 2003
The Gambling Act of 2003 stipulates that all gambling in New Zealand is prohibited unless it is pre-approved by the government of the country. All legal gambling in the country is categorized into four different classes that each require a different license issued by the government in order for them to operate. Each class has its own limits with regards to turnover and prize amounts.
The minimum age limit for playing at land based casinos is 20 years of age, while sports bettors must be at least 18 years of age in order to place bets.
Most gambling activities are allowed across the board in New Zealand but the two types of gambling that are completely prohibited are bookmaking and playing at local online casinos.
The law, in fact, states that New Zealanders are prohibited from playing online at any locally licensed land based online casinos, but anyone of the legal age can play at any online casino that is licensed and based anywhere else in the world. These international online casinos are, however, prohibited from any type of advertising within the borders of New Zealand.
Laws Revolving Around Online Gambling
Since New Zealanders are free to play at international online and mobile casinos, they must take it upon themselves to ensure they play at legally licensed and safe ones. Players from New Zealand are welcome at many international online and mobile casinos who even accept NZD, but not all of them operate safe and reliably.
It is up to a player to find a safe environment that legally accepts them, accepts NZD, provides accessible banking options, pays out as fast as possible and provides completely fair casino games of good quality. The government of New Zealand cannot be held liable for any problems associated with playing at an internationally licensed and based online or mobile casino.
While players in New Zealand cannot report any slights or unfair practises to their own government when playing at international online and mobile casinos, they can contact and report such issues to the authority who has licensed the specific online or mobile casino. The independent organizations that ensure fair legal gambling and that have certified the specific online or mobile casino can also be contacted as they have the power to investigate any disputes.
Players are not subject to paying income tax on any of their winnings, provided they are legally playing at international online or mobile casinos. Banking institutions in New Zealand allow financial transactions, such as deposits and withdrawals, at international online and mobile casinos.
Responsible Gaming in New Zealand
New Zealand is now a liberal country when it comes to gambling, and with strict regulations it can oversee and profit from it. Funds raised and donated to communities are beneficial.
The fact that legal online gambling is only allowed at international online and mobile casinos may mean players in New Zealand are not as protected as they would be if the local government regulated them, but New Zealand itself is dedicated to responsible gaming because of its liberal views on gambling.
The country provides many resources to help those in need to overcome problem gambling. There are multiple foundations and organizations that offer help in the form of addiction helplines, support groups and various other forms of counselling.
Legislation of Gambling in New Zealand FAQ’s
New Zealand has a long tradition of gambling, whether it be lottery, sports betting or casino game play. While most players are fairly sure of the gambling legislation, not everyone knows how this affects online gambling. Some people think that online gambling is illegal, while others have been playing for a number of years. The law may seem confusing and needs a bit of clarity. For this reason, we have created a comprehensive FAQ list, which should answer all the most relevant questions.
Is it legal to Gamble in New Zealand?
Gambling is legal in New Zealand and is strictly controlled by the Department of Internal Affairs. In 2003, the Gambling Act was implemented which allows only certain types of gambling in the country. The new law was focused on ensuring the community benefits from the proceeds of gambling activities
What Types of Gambling Activities are Legal?
Land-based casinos, state-run lotteries, bingo and instant games (scratch cards) are all mentioned in the Gambling Act as legal forms of gambling in New Zealand.
What About Sports Betting?
From 1920 to 1961, bookmaking was deemed illegal. Since the implementation of the Totalizator Agency Board (TAB), bookmaking and sports betting is legal in the country and exempt from the Gambling Act.
What Casinos are available in New Zealand?
The number of land-based casinos are strictly regulated in New Zealand. To date, there are only six casinos throughout the country. These include:
- Dunedin Casino
- Christchurch Casino
- SkyCity Auckland
- SKYCITY Hamilton
- SKYCITY Queenstown
- SKYCITY Wharf Casino
Is Online Gambling Legal?
According to the 2003 Gambling Act, remote interactive gambling is forbidden. However, this doesn’t mean that players cannot gamble online. First off, there are two exemptions for the Lotteries Commission and the Racing Board. This means that it is legal to play the lottery online and to place racing bets online.
In terms of casino gambling, online casinos operating within the borders of New Zealand are illegal. Gambling at local New Zealand online casinos are not allowed but gambling at overseas casinos are allowed.
Can I play at Foreign Casinos?
Yes, according to New Zealand law, it is perfectly legal to play at foreign based online casinos, as long as the casino does not operate inside the borders of the country.
Can I Gamble Using New Zealand Dollars?
There are plenty of online casinos that accept New Zealand Dollars even if they are not locally based. It is recommended that players look for casinos that offer local currency as this eliminates the need to pay conversion fees.
Are There Risks in Playing at Offshore Casinos?
There are always technically risks involved when gambling online. For local players, it is important to look for an online casino that is fully licenced and accepts players from New Zealand. Before signing up, always read which countries are prohibited and where the casino is licenced.
To eliminate risk, it is best to sign up with casinos that have a proven track record. These are casinos that have been around for a while and have a solid customer bases. It is also a good idea to read the casino reviews before signing up.