Complete Guide to Casino Gambling in New Zealand
Gambling has been a part of New Zealand life for many years now. While it has undergone some periods of strict regulation, today, Kiwis are legally allowed to participate in many forms of gambling as regulated by the Department of Internal Affairs. This includes sports gambling, horse racing, lotteries, mobile pokies (slot machines), and playing at NZ real money online casinos.
Our comprehensive guide covers everything New Zealand gamblers need to know, including:
- What is online gambling
- What online gambling and casino games are legal
- What your tax obligations are
- Specific tips for New Zealand players
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Legal Gambling in New Zealand
Gambling has been documented in New Zealand as early as the 1830s when Kiwis would primarily bet on horse racing. After long periods of prohibition on almost all forms of gambling, expenditures now total around $NZ 2 billion per year. The table below shows a breakdown of where this money is spent:
All public gaming entities are required to donate a portion of profits toward the bettering of the community and today, there are six land-based casinos operating on the islands.
New Zealand Player Information
Kiwis wishing to gamble online are able to as long as the casino they choose to play at is not based within the borders of New Zealand. Online gambling offers many of the same games players can find in traditional casinos, and a lot of the fun and excitement too.
New Zealanders who want to gamble with New Zealand-based operators are limited to gaming machines (like slots), lottery games, racing/sports betting, and gambling at one of the nation's six brick-and-mortar casinos.
Secure Online Play for New Zealanders
Because there are no New Zealand-based online casinos, Kiwi players will have to trust the gambling regulations and laws of other countries. However, with New Zealand being such a big market with no domestic online casinos to go to, many of the top international sites will bring New Zealanders in by accepting the NZD.
Ensuring certification from a highly-regarded testing agency (like eCOGRA), as well as the proper license in the country where the casino's operations are based, will almost always guarantee that players have made a smart decision. These credentials are typically displayed prominently on the bottom of every respected online casino's homepage. If this information can't be found without minimal effort, then consider that to be a red flag for that particular operator.
Responsible Gaming & Gambling Addiction Help
New Zealanders have a number of resources available to them for help with gambling addiction. The Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand offers gambling addiction help lines, counseling and support groups. Those seeking help (or looking to help someone else) can also find a variety of educational materials, as well as meeting times and locations, on the organization's site at pgfnz.org.nz.
The Gambling Helpline New Zealand is another great resource that offers similar services.
What is online gambling?
Online gambling is exactly what it sounds like – casinos games and other forms of betting that you do digitally through your computer or mobile device.
What are the types of gambling?
There are many different types of gambling ranging from popular casino games like blackjack and pokies (slots) to sports betting and horse racing.
What type of gambling has the best odds?
Blackjack, a popular cards game, is widely regarded as having the best odds in the gambling world. Table games in general tend to have better odds, while pokies and other machine-based games are more down to pure chance and luck.
What online gambling and casino games are legal?
This varies country to country so will depend on where the company operates from and where a player is located.
What laws apply to modern-day gambling in New Zealand?
Under the Gambling Act 2003, all gambling is prohibited unless authorized by the government. Gambling is categorized into four classes, each of which requires a special license from the government in order to operate. Maximum prize amounts and turnovers vary from class to class.
Gambling-related activities that are still prohibited across the board include bookmaking and remote interactive (online) gambling. But, while Kiwi law dictates that it is illegal for players to gamble at any online casino based in New Zealand, any player of age can legally play at online casinos based outside the country. Advertising from overseas gaming operators within New Zealand is banned though.
If in any doubt, check your local regional laws.
Can New Zealanders play at international casino sites?
While New Zealand's gaming regulations might seem strict at first, in reality they’re simply focused on shutting down New Zealand-based operators that are not licensed by the state. The law is clear that as long as the player is of age, there’s nothing prohibiting New Zealanders from playing at online casinos based elsewhere. That means you can enjoy all the top casino games such as keno, craps, poker, video poker, blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and pokies any time you want.
Can I legally deposit and withdraw money from online casinos?
Yes. As long as the online gambling operator is based overseas and not in New Zealand.
At what age can you play at casinos or other forms of gambling?
Players must be at least 20 years of age to enter casinos, but only 18 to participate in sports betting (including horse racing), scratch cards and lotteries.
How many New Zealanders gamble regularly?
It is estimated that 80% of all Kiwis (about 3.6 million people) gamble in some form or another, with many of these players participating in lottery games only. In 2013, players spent over $2 billion NZD on outside gaming machines (pokies), lotteries, sports betting, and at live casinos. Gambling overall has dropped about 19% since 2004, however expenditure on lotto games has increased 22% from a decade ago.
Do online casinos offer play in NZD?
Yes. The top online casinos for New Zealand on this page all accept NZD. Players can typically deposit and withdraw in NZD, play in that currency and see their transaction history in NZD on these sites. Plus, playing at a casino that accepts Kiwis means no exchanging currency, which often has fees associated with it.
Do I have to pay taxes on my gambling winnings?
No. As long as you are playing at an online casino based internationally, New Zealanders are able to keep 100% of their winnings and are not subject to income tax.
Is online gambling safe?
Yes, as long as you choose a reputable casino, like the ones listed on our site. When shopping for an online casino, players should always look for the eCOGRA logo at the bottom of the homepage. This certification signifies that the casino has met stringent security testing standards, has the most complex data encryption and they practice fair gaming procedures. If you see this seal, you can feel confident entrusting your money to this casino.
Is play fair at online casinos?
All online casinos with an eCOGRA (or similar certification) are inspected and audited regularly to meet high standards of quality, including protecting the privacy of the customer and safeguarding their information through encryption software. Practices such as random number generator analysis and regular game inspections are also standard for every certified online casino. Additionally, reports about casinos that try to scam players are widely available online.
Can a player get help if they suspect unfair activity?
Yes. While the New Zealand government doesn't have jurisdiction over any overseas-based casinos, players who feel they have been mistreated can report gaming sites to the company that licenses them. Quality-assurance organizations like eCOGRA also look into disputes with operators that they certify. And if you have trouble with any casino you find on our site, visit our Player Assist page to see how we can help your resolve the issue.
Who regulates the New Zealand gaming industry?
Gambling in New Zealand is regulated by The Gambling Commission, which is encompassed by the Department of Internal Affairs. Established in 2003, the Commission licenses casinos, specifies conditions for licensing and approves agreements between casino operators and casino venue license holders.