Online Gambling In New Zealand

Current Legal Status:

  • In terms of the Gambling Act of 2003, it is not explicitly prohibited nor illegal for a player living in New Zealand to play at an online casino that is based overseas
  • Online sports betting in New Zealand is controlled by the New Zealand Racing Board, the only provider of racing and sports betting services in New Zealand. Online sports betting follows the same law as online casino gambling in New Zealand, meaning it is legal as long as it is run outside of New Zealand and accepts Kiwi players.
  • The same laws apply for online poker as it is legal as long as it is played at a casino based outside of New Zealand.

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Regulations for NZ players and Online Gambling sites

When it comes to New Zealand regulations for online gambling, the NZ government has legislated this venue a long time ago. In 2003, the Gambling Act was passed on which states that it is legal for NZ residents to gamble online, if the casino is located outside NZ jurisdiction. However in one section of the act it states that NZ residents are not allowed to participate in online gambling, if the operators’ website is located within NZ jurisdiction. This makes the entire question about whether NZ players are legally allowed to gamble in online casinos very clear, with a positive answer, since there are no casino operators online situated on NZ territory.

The NZ government has made some other additional questions about online gambling very clear as well. In compliance with the Gambling Act all NZ players are allowed to take part in online poker and sports betting, since these areas fall into the same category as all online gambling. Furthermore, NZ players should be aware that all winnings from online gambling are excluded from annual income tax reports.

A Brief History of Gambling in New Zealand

Gambling is considered as one of the oldest gaming activities in the world. Even though gambling is sometimes frowned upon by more conservative individuals, you will likely find different sorts of gambling among every culture. Presently, the gambling industry has more activity than previous years and is now worth billions in the industry. And just like the rest of the world, gambling is a big part of New Zealand’s gaming culture.

While gambling has been played in New Zealand for centuries, the activity we know today came to the country with the first European settlers. Gambling was a popular activity during the colonial period, although this was changed once the Gambling Act of 1908 was passed and only allowed legal gambling to take place at New Zealand’s racetracks. Despite this law, gambling grew in popularity and in 1951, the laws against gambling became somewhat more liberal.

The Golden Kiwi Lottery was soon introduced and this only grew the popularity of gambling in the country. The first legal casino to open in New Zealand was in Christchurch in 1994. Altogether, New Zealand has six legal casinos, including establishments in Dunedin, Queenstown, Hamilton, and Auckland. SkyCity Casino is the largest casino in the country while SkyCity Entertainment Group is the largest operator in New Zealand. In terms of online gambling, NZ online casinos have done a lot to change the way Kiwis gamble and has contributed to the surge in gambling revenue in recent years. In New Zealand, it is illegal to operate an online casino but residents over the age of 18 can legally play at casinos based overseas.

History of Casinos in NZ

Who Decides What’s Legal?

Gambling within New Zealand is tightly regulated by the country’s Internal Affairs Department. A few decades back we note that various forms of gambling had all sorts of legal statuses, for example bookmaking wasn’t legal until 1961 when the Totalizator Agency Board (TAB) made horse race betting legal across the country. At present though, the legality of gambling in New Zealand is governed by the Gambling Act of 2003. Gambling is generally classed into four categories of legal betting, and any deviation from these classes is described as being illegal. In addition, all gambling has to return a percentage of the proceeds back to the community.  Since there are no legal casinos operating online in New Zealand, these are not included in this stipulation.

In addition, the Act prohibits ‘remote interactive gambling’. This essentially refers to casino and sportsbetting ventures that are accessed via electronic devices. However, this law states that while it is illegal to host an online casino in New Zealand, it is neither prohibited nor illegal for New Zealanders to play at casinos based outside of the country. The Racing Act of 2003 controls sports betting and racing in New Zealand.

Most governments have voted gambling bills that enable online gambling to be regulated by law, providing clear information on what the resident country players can or cannot do, when it comes to online gambling. Some countries have banned their residents from making any financial transactions in online casinos (UIGEA act, USA), while most allow online gambling but require the online casino operator to follow and comply with regulations.

The best example for this is the UK, as the parliament voted a bill to passed regulating online gambling for all UK residents and online operators who do business on UK soil, but imposed all operators to acquire the UK Gambling Commission License and pay a yearly fee to the UK government. This step will ensure that the UK players will be protected to the full extent of the law.

How are NZ Players Protected?

The regulations imposed by the 2003 Gambling Act by the NZ government are very simple and precise. NZ players are allowed to gamble online in casino operators based outside NZ territory and basically operators are prohibited to set up operations on NZ soil.

This is a clever and simple solution to resolve everything about online gambling with one move, freeing the NZ government of any liability from online gambling.
This may seem at first that NZ players are left on their own to the mercy of online casino operators, but you can rest assured that you will be protected if any problems occur while gambling online. As we mentioned before strict regulations have been imposed to online casino lately, forcing them to operate in a professional and safe manner.

The license regulator a certain casino holds is the best way to solve any problems that might occur between the casino and the player. They will review the case in question and make a non biased decision in favor of one side.

The regulators take their responsibility very seriously to protect players from potentially rogue and unfair casino operators online. If the online casino operator in question is found to have deliberately damaged the player in any way possible, their operations may be suspended and their license revoked, with further potential legal acts taken.

Safe Online Gambling

There is one very simple reason why it doesn’t work in the casinos favor to misbehave in any way towards online players. Today there are a very big number of operators who offer instant withdrawals, problem free payments and top of the line services.

If that number was a handful a few years ago, today it is measured in the hundreds. If a player has problems in one casino the complaints will be passed among the gambling community very fast thanks to sites like This will drive away depositing players from that casino and they won’t make any revenue to continue operating. The time of rogue casinos online is behind us and today the only profitable way to operate is by offering top of the line services, attracting a big number of depositing players online.

Recommended Legal Online Gambling Sites for New Zealanders

If you are unsure about what to look out for when choosing a legal casino for New Zealand players online, here we have listed some of the most recognized names in the industry that accept Kiwi players.

Remember that any online gambling sites operating within the boundaries of New Zealand are not legal. Make sure that the casino operates outside of New Zealand before joining the site and depositing any real money.

Last Updated: April 25, 2022