Australians love gambling. Statistics show that the nation is betting crazy, with around 39% enjoying putting down wagers. Given that New Zealand is so close, many assume the same statistics apply. Well, they surprisingly don’t. New Zealanders are significantly less interested in gambling. A 2018 poll showed that only 13% of Kiwis actively gamble. New Zealand also has a 5th of the population and enjoys far less tourism. It all adds up to a nation that has an underdeveloped gambling industry. At least it did until recently.
It all started with an unexpected event that swept the planet. The world health crisis kept everyone at home, including cautious New Zealanders. The situation triggered a moderate change in behavior in the population. Betting numbers rose dramatically over 2020. The average amount spent betting hit a new peak of $572. Interest in betting overall also rose, seeming to indicate a new era for the island nation.
With that being said it’s time to get a better idea of local gambling laws. It should be mentioned that all of these laws do not apply to foreign iGaming operators. Offshore sites do not fall under the New Zealand gambling laws. It is therefore legal for locals to use their services.
Horse Racing and Sports Betting
All local gambling laws are outlined in the 2003 New Zealand Gambling Act. The basis of the laws is that all forms of gambling are illegal unless specifically permitted. Horse racing itself was banned until 1961. Today horse racing is the exception when it comes to sports betting.
Since being legalized horse racing gave birth to the Totalizator Agency Board of New Zealand (TAB NZ) in 2020. TAB NZ came about through the Racing Industry Act of 2020, acting as the sole means for horse racing betting. Locals may place bets on horse racing at tracks or via the TAB NZ online services. As it stands the popularity of putting down horse racing wagers is steadily increasing.
Lotteries are the most accepted form of gambling in New Zealand. The local commission was founded in 1987, with lottery programs aimed at raising money. Scratch Cards are now also available at various outlets. The most popular lottery is Bing Wednesday, with tickets available online. Many locals also enjoy daily Keno.
When it comes to classic casino games there are a few venues that offer them in New Zealand. A total of 5 legal casinos exist, with the most famous being the SkyCity operations. Other venues include The Dunedin Casino and Christchurch Casino. SkyCity venues are located in Queenstown, Auckland, and Hamilton. These classy venues are where locals go for pokies, Roulette, and other classic games.
The venues do enjoy popularity but suffered during the world health crisis. Online casinos gained the payers that the land-based casinos lost. The land-based venues are slowly regaining popularity while iGaming continues to thrive.
As far as online gambling is concerned the variety of games is limited. New Zealanders are unable to play pokies at local online sites due to regulatory restrictions. This doesn’t mean that online pokies are unavailable entirely. The already-mentioned foreign online casino operators do offer pokies. This means that locals can spin the reels online assuming they choose the right sites.
Most foreign sites are ethical and licensed. However, it is still essential that New Zealanders are careful about where they play. Helpful review sites assist in weeding out reputable sites from those that are questionable. Either way, there are plenty of great foreign options for those locals looking to spin the reels online.