Gambling laws in New Zealand are clear about the legal and illegal games. We will give you examples of wagering options online operators in New Zealand offer to their players. At the end of the article, we will also answer interesting questions about gambling-related matters. Before all this, you will find detailed information about the current active laws and government authorities regulating gambling.

Gambling Laws in New Zealand – History & Present Day Regulations

The first regulation of gambling in New Zealand happened in 1835. For the following two centuries, the government did its best to catch up with the development of casinos and gambling games. Today, the country’s legislation has a long list of legal wagering games. Before going into details about the games and casinos, we will tell you all there is to know about the New Zealand gambling laws.

NZ Gambling Laws in the Past

The history of gambling in New Zealand began long before the first written laws. The Maori had no gambling, so the first betting games were brought by the colonists from Europe. During the last century, pokies and video poker machines were added to hotel lobbies and drinking establishments. In the meantime, the government created laws and gambling authorities. Here is how they changed through time:

📅 Year ⚖️ Gambling Law
✔️ 1835 The first legal form of gambling was horse race betting. Soon after creating the law, the Bay of Island became the home of the first-ever race.
✔️ 1881 – 1932 The Gaming and Lotteries Act outlawed gambling because of pressure from the Protestant population.
✔️ 1932 State-run lotteries have been legalised.
✔️ 1961 Golden Kiwi lottery is introduced to the people.
✔️ 1971 The Racing Act 1971 regulated and legalised all horse and greyhound racing wagering.
✔️ 1977 The Gaming and Lotteries Act allowed private companies to open gambling businesses. Instant games, charity gambling, and different prize competitions are also legalised.
✔️ 1987 Lotto and pokies (slots and video poker machines) were introduced.
✔️ 1990 – 1991 The Casino Control Act legalised casinos.
✔️ 1992 New Gaming and Lotteries Regulations about licence fees are accepted.
✔️ 1993 The Gaming and Lotteries Prizes Notice is created.
✔️ 1994 The Casino Control Act gets upgrades of the certificates of approval and warrants regulations.
✔️ 1997 The Casino Control Act meets a moratorium, and the Amendment Act is accepted.
✔️ 1998 Gaming and Lotteries Regulations dealing with the problem of gambling are accepted.
✔️ 2000 Casino Control Act’s moratorium is performed, and an amendment act is accepted.
✔️ 2003 Gambling Act 2003 is introduced with regulations of the sector and online gambling. In addition to that, six legal casinos are introduced.

As you can see, the New Zealand gambling laws have been changed and updated multiple times. This shows the desire of the authorities to allow NZ players to enjoy legal gambling entertainments. We glanced at the past, and now it is time to turn your attention to the present and future. In the next sections, we will discuss the modern gambling legislation and its’ specifics.

The Gambling Act 2003 – Main Gambling Rules in NZ

Gambling Act Book
Just like the rest of the gambling laws worldwide, the Gambling Act of 2003 also regulates many forms of modern gambling. The Gambling Act (initially Gambling Bill) is the main gambling legislation in New Zealand.

The law focuses on community benefits from gambling and decreasing any harm gambling may cause. The main way the government controls it is by keeping the games of chance for real money in casinos. All such activities held outside of licensed establishments have to be for charitable purposes or Class 2 gaming.

In addition to that, the NZ Gambling Act 2003 controls the growth of gambling establishemnts by creating licences. The act also lists the legal and illegal gambling games and their fairness requirements. This decreases the opportunities for gambling crimes. Another part of the law ensures that part of the money from gambling is directed to benefit the community.

The Gambling Act was amended in 2015, 2016, 2019, and few other changes are yet discussed. Today, the Gambling Act also regulates the activity of NZ online casinos. Currently, there are no dedicated New Zealand online gambling laws, so all online operators who wish to make their sites available to NZ players have to obey the main gambling legislation.

Legal Gambling Age in New Zealand

Legal Age Birthday Cake
Those of you who have seen our research on the gambling age around the world have noticed that the legal gambling age of NZ players is set at 20 years. For every other game like keno, lottery, wagering, and the rest of the Class I games, players need to be over 18 years old.

This is relatively standard age restriction; legal gambling in the UK is 18, as it is in few other European countries. In the US, the legal age ranges between 18-21 depending on the state.

Gambling Taxes in New Zealand

According to the Income Tax Act5 NZ players are not taxed. This means the casual or professional gamblers collect their full prizes. The no-tax situation is as strong as for pro poker players, horse race punters, lotto players, and every other gambler who got lucky at a land-based or online gambling location.

On the other side of the spectrum are the operators, who pay licence fees, gambling tax, and venue payments. The Gambling Act and the support regulatory legislations have detailed information about the size of the fees, payment dates, and everything else the operators need to know.

New Zealand Gambling Regulators & Authorities

Legal Gambling Authority

The gambling laws in NZ also regulate the activities of the local regulators and monitoring authorities. We will not waste any more time, so read on to learn the essentials about the different agencies and government departments related to gambling in New Zealand.

Department of Internal Affairs

The Department of Internal Affairs is the legal body behind gambling regulations in New Zealand. It strictly follows the New Zealand Gambling Act and undertakes the matters of gambling licences, compliance, and enforcement functions. Everything related to gambling, wagering, or money prizes is under the authority of the Department of Internal Affairs.

New Zealand Gambling Commission

The New Zealand Gambling Commission is an independent statutory decision-making body working. Established under Gambling Act 2003, the Commission deals with casinos and other types of gambling licences issued by the Department of Internal Affairs.

The NZ Gambling Commission issues or denies casino licences but can also extend or change existing gambling licences. It can also advise ministers on the gambling levy, the Commission’s functions and performance, and many other matters.

Lotto NZ & The Lotteries Commission

The New Zealand Lotteries Commission and Lotto NZ are dealing with everything related to lottery, scratch cards, keno, bingo, and similar games. The lottery licensing procedure is similar to the casino licence one but holds its specifics. The greatest difference is that the largest lotteries are government held.

Totalizator Agency Board (TAB) New Zealand

The Racing Industry Act 2020 is the document that established TAB (Totalizator Agency Board). The objectives of this authority stretch over everything related to betting, raising, gambling risks, and New Zealand sports. TAB NZ also deals with the risks of underage gambling and problem gambling.

Ministry of Health & Gambling Addiction

The New Zealand gambling laws related to gambling are also overseen by the Ministry of Health. In the Gambling Act section 317, the government entrusts the Ministry of Health to research gambling harm. As a result, there is a strong gambling addiction prevention campaign. Kiwis can find gambling addiction help on the Ministry of Health website.

New Zealand Local and Unitary Councils

New Zealand has five territorial authorities (Auckland, Gisborne, Marlborough, Nelson, and Tasman), which take part in the gambling matters decisions. The local and unitary councils are the middleman between the community and the government. They deal with the development and reviewing of existing gambling locations and racing tracks, and can make suggestions for changes to the government authorities.

New Zealand Gambling Licences

Gambling Licence Approved

The top land-based casinos and the best online casinos in the world are licensed, safe, and secure gambling sites. That is no different for operators who wish to entertain Kiwis with casino or betting games. According to the Gambling Act of 2003 and the following amendments and gambling laws New Zealand has accepted, all casinos in the country must be licensed. The application process for acquiring a licence follows those steps:

  1. 😎 Applicant: Submits application (with photographs and fingerprints) and pays a licence fee plus appeal filing fees to the NZ Gambling Commission.
  2. 🏢 Commission: Decides if assisting experts are required and sends the application (with personal details) to the police and the DIA (Department of Internal Affairs). Once the reports are returned, they are sent to the applicant requesting a written submission.
  3. 😎 The applicant makes the written submissions.
  4. 🏢 Commission: considers the information and grants or refuses to grant the licence. It is also possible to grant a licence under conditions (different for each operator), and once the applicant fulfils them, the licence is granted. After that, the Commission destroys all fingerprints and photographs.

The applicant can appeal to the NZ Gambling Commission to reconsider the denied request or any other matter. The acquired gambling licence can be in the form of an application for temporary authority to operate a casino. The related organs check those requests and follow the required procedures.

Land-Based & Online Casinos for Kiwis

The gambling laws in New Zealand regulate land-based casinos and the top online gambling sites for Kiwis. This may confuse you because, according to the law, online casino gambling is illegal. We will go into details about this, but first, we will introduce to you the best brick and mortar Kiwi casinos. Below, you will find details about the operators, and in the next section of the article, we’ll discuss the legal games.

Top Land-Based Casinos in New Zealand

Land-Based Casino
There are many gambling laws in New Zealand that operators must follow if they wish to offer their services legally. The first mandatory requirement is that the casino is licensed by the NZ Gambling Commission. We are glad to inform you that all six casinos in New Zealand meet this requirement so that players can enjoy either one of them at any time. Here they are listed below for your convenience. Any of the six casinos listed would be a great pick for an avid kiwi gambler; they are all trusted and safe:

  • Christchurch Casino
  • Dunedin Casino
  • SkyCity Auckland
  • SkyCity Hamilton
  • SkyCity Queenstown
  • SkyCity Wharf Casino

The first New Zealand casino is Christchurch Casino, which opened for players in 1994. During the following years, other brick-and-mortar casinos also appeared as a form of entertainment throughout the country. They offer various gambling games starting from poker, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, and different pokies. We will tell you more about them in a while. Let’s return to the online gambling situation down under.

Online Gambling Laws in NZ

Online Gambling
There are no New Zealand online gambling laws, and according to the Gambling Act, online gambling is illegal. For operators, this means that no domestic casino can offer gambling games of any kind online. The regulations are quite similar to the online gambling laws in Australia. Another similarity to the Aussie gambling regulations is the exceptions allowed by the NZ online gambling laws, when it comes to the question of who can operate online. As of now, those exceptions include the government lottery and online sports betting.

On the other hand, Kiwis can access offshore gambling sites like the best live casino sites in New Zealand. Since there are many illegal operators, caution and safety measures are advised. Before registering, New Zealand players must be sure that the online casino is licenced by international authorities or governments of other countries.

Some of the best New Zealand poker sites are offshore brands, and that is why many local operators recommend changes in the laws. In 2019, an open discussion began between the people and the government aimed to determine the future of online gambling in New Zealand. We are yet to see changes, but at least the base is laid.

Legal Gambling & Casino Games for Kiwis

Aside from online gambling laws in NZ, we want to emphasise the legal gambling games in the country. This section is not directed to game tutorials, and you will not find out what are pokies. We will also skip non-gambling activities like fantasy sports betting, loot boxes, or skin gambling. Instead, in the element below, you can find games you can legally play in New Zealand:

Pokies & Casino Table Games

Pokies and Video PokerOur guide dedicated to the online pokies in New Zealand holds interesting information about slots and video poker gaming machines. Alongside them, players in New Zealand can enjoy classic casino table and card games (roulette, poker, blackjack, and more) and their modern variations.

Horse Races & Sports Betting

Horse RacesAccording to the Racing Industry Act 2020, sports betting and horse races are legal both at land-based establishments and online. Horse racing in New Zealand can be Thoroughbred Racing or Harness (Standardbred) Racing and is available to all punters. The government-held sportsbooks are also legal. On the other hand, all blood sports are illegal.

Lottery, Bingo, Scratchcards & More

Lottery GamesKiwis and New Zealand visitors over the age of 18 can play lottery, bingo, keno, scratch cards, and other instant win games held by the country. The Golden Kiwi lottery is an excellent example of a game where anyone can participate and have an equal chance to win.

Each gambling law in NZ is “silent” about cryptocurrency wagering, and no land-based operator would accept such funding. That is so because, according to the government, cryptocurrencies are not a legit currency. Fortunately, some high roller casino sites in New Zealand do accept Bitcoin payments.

Gambling Laws New Zealand Q&A

All gambling laws in New Zealand have covered every aspect of gambling. We already described the rules and authorities in our review, and now, we will answer several important questions on the matter.

*️⃣ Is gambling legal in New Zealand?

According to the gambling laws in New Zealand, there are legal and illegal gambling games and locations. All land-based casinos must be licensed and offer legal games. Online gambling is illegal, but Kiwis are not prosecuted for playing at offshore gambling sites.

*️⃣ Who regulates gambling in New Zealand?

Part of the gambling laws in NZ includes information about the gambling authorities in New Zealand. The Department of Internal Affairs deals with all gambling-related matters. Beyond this, different institutions and commissions are dealing with special matters. The most popular is the New Zealand Gambling Commission, Lotteries Commission, and Totalizator Agency Board (TAB).

*️⃣ Where can I gamble legally in New Zealand?

The NZ gambling laws are clear about the licensed gambling locations. Players can either enter the New Zealand casinos or choose the lottery, bingo, keno, and instant win games. Besides the brick-and-mortar locations, Kiwis and tourists can play at online sports betting sites or offshore online casinos.

*️⃣ What are the legal gambling games in New Zealand?

In the New Zealand gambling laws, we can find a list of the legal and illegal games. Check out the section of our article dedicated to the gambling opportunities, which can be played at land-based and online casinos. We can say that pokies and table games are just the tip of the iceberg.

*️⃣ What is the legal gambling age in New Zealand?

Part of the list of gambling laws in NZ includes requirements towards players, and that is to obey the legal gambling age in New Zealand. Anyone 18+ years old can play the lottery, scratch cards, bingo, and similar games, but you have to be 20+ to play at a casino.

*️⃣ Are casinos legal in New Zealand?

There are six land-based casinos all locals and tourists can visit. The casino locations are established and regularly monitored by the relevant New Zealand authorities. Players should be 20 years old to enter a casino and play either one of the games.

*️⃣ Is online gambling legal in New Zealand?

There are no special New Zealand online gambling laws, and officially, online gambling is illegal. Still, there are some opportunities for the players, like the national lottery and sports betting sites. Besides this, the Kiwis are free to play at licensed offshore gambling sites and keep the winnings without paying taxes.

*️⃣ How can I licence my casino in New Zealand?

The Gambling Act of 2003 and the rest of the NZ gambling laws are clear about the procedure of acquiring a New Zealand gambling licence. Operators can file an application to the NZ Gambling Commission. After the application is examined, the latter can issue or deny a licence.

*️⃣ Who pays gambling taxes in New Zealand?

According to the gambling laws in NZ and the rest of the taxation laws, there are gambling taxes in New Zealand. The great news is that players don’t pay winners tax regardless of the game or the size of the prize. On the other hand, all operators are obligated to pay taxes, venue fees, and licence fees.



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