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Gambling in Zealand - Present and Future

Published on January 15, 2019, 4:59 pm

by Jeff Grant Twitter account Jeff Grant LinkedIn account

The New Zealand Gambling Act of 2003 prohibits ‘remote interactive gambling’. This is defined as ‘gambling by a person at a distance by interaction through a communication device’. Basically, this means that online casinos and bookmakers cannot set up a website based in New Zealand. However, the people of the country love to gamble, so how do they get around it?

Milford Sound (New Zealand)
The beautiful landscape of Milford Sound (New Zealand)

Gambling Regulation

The Department of Internal Affairs regulates all gambling in New Zealand, and over the last 100 years or so the rules have changed quite a lot. Bookmaking was declared illegal in 1920 and it was only the introduction of the Totalizator Agency Board (TAB) in 1961 that meant bets on horseracing could be made in places other than racecourses.

In 1994, the first casino was opened in Christchurch and now the country has six of them. This means that kiwi casino players can enjoy the delights of poker, blackjack and all the other popular games that casinos offer. It seems that one of the most popular games played in New Zealand are slot machines, or as they are known locally, pokies.

They and their neighbors in Australia have embraced these machines and often they are owned and run by charities that put any profits back into the communities they are sited in.

Sports betting is also a favorite, which really should be no surprise with the huge successes some of their international teams have enjoyed. Rugby Union, cricket, football, and netball all attract the punters.

Can Kiwis Gamble Online?

The answer to that question is a simple yes, as long as the casino website is not based in New Zealand. If they can access a website anywhere else in the world, it is not against the law for players to use them, and a large part of the population that gamble do it in this way.

Parts of this island country are so remote that it makes sense if someone wants to place a bet on the All Blacks, for instance, that they should be able to do so without having to travel many miles.

 All Blacks team (1904)
1904 All Blacks team to face British Lions

Will This Change?

It possibly will. The largest part of the gaming industry in New Zealand is owned and operated by state-owned institutions, which means the treasury benefits from them a great deal. They could also benefit greatly from allowing online casinos to be based in the country, as they would have to pay taxes on their profits to the government.

It would also allow the Department of Internal Affairs some regulatory powers over them. At the moment, with people playing in casinos based in other countries, there is no guarantee that the standards are as high as they would be if they were under the jurisdiction of New Zealand laws.

The gambling laws are reviewed quite often, and these could be affected by the fast pace that technology is advancing at. New technology and innovations are making the whole process of gambling online safer for the players and more lucrative for the operators, which in turn means more taxes for whichever governments license them. Follow reading about the 5 best online casinos in New Zealand here.


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