Gambling in New Zealand, whether offline or online, is controlled by the Gambling Act of 2003. Anything that does not fall within the specifications of this law is illegal, and that pretty much covers gambling in most of its form. As with similar laws in other countries though, it isn’t quite that straightforward.
Within New Zealand, gambling is only officially legal when it is licensed by the New Zealand Lotteries Commission, unless it is a charity event, where the money raised is given to a good cause. There are the 6 casinos that are run by the NZLC and owned by the state. These casinos include 4 SkyCity casinos, two of which are in Queenstown, with the others in Hamilton and Auckland; along with the Dunedin Casino and Christchurch Casino. The minimum age requirement for players in these casinos is 20, and they all include the same games you would find in other land-based casinos around the world.
Bookmaking is completely illegal in all parts of New Zealand and has been for many years, although the Totalizator Agency Board changed this in the early 1960s and allowed betting on horse races providing it was trackside. Thoroughbred horse racing is actually quite popular in New Zealand, as is the trackside pari-mutuel betting; some of the most popular tracks include Ellerslie Racecourse, which is in Auckland, and the much smaller Kumara course. Races are run throughout the year and there are several thousands of them in total, equating to over $50 million in prize money.
Pokies, which are incredibly popular with New Zealand’s neighbors Australia, are also widely enjoyed throughout New Zealand. They are nowhere near as accessible though and all pokies in the country are operated by charitable foundations, which means that all of the money goes to a good cause. They still offer the same play and the same jackpots for the players though, and they are also available in may non-casino environments, such as hotels and bars. It has been estimated that there are more than 4 times as many pokies in poorer areas than there are in richer ones, and in total there is 1 pokie for every 211 people in New Zealander.
Online gambling is also illegal in New Zealand, but it is not illegal if the website is based outside of New Zealand, which many of the best ones are. This means that many of the internet’s top online casinos, such as the Fortune Lounge Group of casinos, — which includes Royal Vegas Casino, Platinum Play and Euro Palace — are perfectly legal for New Zealand residents and they will not face prosecution for using them.
If you are based in New Zealand and want to play some online pokies, then just make sure you stick to international casinos. If you find one that purports to be based out of New Zealand, then they are either lying or — even worse — breaking the law, and they are best avoided. As there are no big online casinos in the country, New Zealanders have just as much choice as players from other countries do, so there is no need to compromise and take risks with companies you’re not sure of. Also, the rules on online gambling in New Zealand are nowhere near as contradictory or as confusing as they are in the United States, so whereas Americans tend to struggle to find reputable sites that allow them to play, New Zealanders shouldn’t have the same issue.
On Betfair, for instance, which is the biggest betting exchange in the world, New Zealanders are more than welcome, whilst Bet365, which is one of the most popular sports books in Europe, is also the most popular sports book for New Zealanders, and has been accepting players from there for many years. As we have already mentioned, when it comes to online casinos, sites like Royal Vegas, Platinum Play and Euro Palace have it all and are also open to New Zealanders. These sites have stacks of pokies, including all of the latest and greatest ones, and they also have mobile compatibility, so this is where you should concentrate your efforts.