What Do We Know About Gambling In New Zealand?

Like Aussies, Kiwis highly enjoy making a bet as well and they’re actually more free to do so. The igaming industry in New Zealand is considered one of the most remarkable gambling markets in the world as it allows its players to make online wagers, but only on sites that are based offshore. In a lot of countries the exact opposite applies: local players are only allowed to play at domestic, often government-owned websites, but can’t play elsewhere.

This New Zealand model thus gives us quite an interesting scenario as it makes the country rather unique in its tactics on allowing online gambling. There is a lot to write about gambling in New Zealand and this guide should give readers all the info they should know about gambling in NZ. You’re about to discover all about making a bet in neighbouring NZ.

80% of New Zealanders participates in gambling

New Zealand is home to millions of gamblers, with recent statistics showing that approximately 80% of the country’s population participates in some form of gambling —  including playing on online pokies for real money. By the end of 2018, Kiwis had spent a staggering NZ$2,4 billion on gambling, bringing the average amount spent per player on legal gambling facilities for the year to approximately NZ$648 across the country. How impressive that figure may seem to some, it doesn’t take into account offshore online gambling in the country, a topic that often raises a lot of questions, especially in Aussie where online gambling is not yet accepted — at least not in the way it is tolerated in NZ.

Highly progressive in terms of gambling

In a lot of countries in the region, New Zealand is therefore considered a somewhat odd model when it concerns their gambling policy. In order to get a better understanding of gambling in New Zealand we’ll need to dive into their history. To give you a better understanding of how liberal New Zealanders are when it comes to gambling, we’ll jump back to the 20th century. Betting, which in this case consists of a combination of playing games of chance along with placing bets on racing and sports, has a long and incredibly diverse tradition in NZ. With the very first gambling rules dating all the way back to the first half of the 20th century, Kiwis had been dealing with a highly regulated industry long before other countries in the region.

1908: first games of chance were officially allowed

In the 1830s, gambling was virtually banned on New Zealand territory. However, around the turn of the century, New Zealanders had to deal with a completely different regulation. While the Gambling Act of 1908 was still very restrictive, it did allow betting on some of the country’s most popular sporting events, such as horse racing. Over the course of the 20th century, the country faced two extreme situations regarding the regulation of gambling practices. Before the end of the first half of the century, sports betting and horse racing rules had been tightened to allow only a few specific betting options, such as betting on horse racing. However, in 1961 the government rules were revised, legalising pokies, lotteries and by the late 1990s brick and mortar casino establishments were approved.

The Gambling Act of 2003

As the industry developed and new forms of real money gambling such as online gambling emerged in the 2000s, lawmakers in the country had come up with new rules. The New Zealand Gambling Act of 2003 outlined the legal gambling practices along with the practices that are against the law. At present, New Zealand law provides a clear definition of land based gambling under the Gambling Act of 2003. As far as online gambling in New Zealand is concerned, the situation is not as clear-cut as in gambling activities in brick and mortar venues. More specifically, the Gambling Act of 2003 takes a completely different direction for web-based gambling practices, characterising them as remote betting practices where gamblers communicate via mobile devices. In accordance with New Zealand legal regulations governing online betting, with the exception of sports betting, any online gambling platform established in New Zealand is considered a crime by law.

Casino websites for Kiwis, but technically not

On the other hand, all offshore gambling sites, including online casinos, bookmakers, lotteries and bingo, don’t fall into the banned category. Therefore, gamblers can play at online casino sites outside of New Zealand. This does mean that online casino operators aren’t allowed to operate out of the country to provide online gambling services, but Kiwis can play on offshore platforms without having to worry too much about breaking the law. Nonetheless, players will need to be extremely careful about where they play, as national law can’t afford them protection in the event of a dispute with the specific online operator either. Some land based casinos that are active in NZ (there are 6 casinos in the country) have moved their online casino to Europe and operate their activities from there while aiming at players from NZ. Although they’re about as Kiwi as casino websites can get, they’re technically not from or for NZ. You’ll find some of these rather remarkable online casinos listed on the popular website of KiwiGambler.co.nz.

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