Understanding Online Gambling Laws in NZ

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New Zealand gambling laws can be confusing. There are not many land-based operations in New Zealand, nor are there many locally run gambling sites. Most New Zealanders who gamble online do so at foreign sites. The situation raises many questions about the legality of the landscape. Are the foreign sites legal? Are they safe? Is it legal to gamble online at all in New Zealand?

Many locals are left scratching their heads. Read on and get a better idea of how it all works. The short answer is that gambling online is legal, including at overseas operated sites. 

Most of New Zealand’s gambling laws are laid out in the Gambling Act Of 2003. The act does not ban online gambling. What it does do is make it clear that online operators may not reside in the country. This means that locally run sites are few and far between. Those that do exist operate under strict government regulations.

Are Off-Shore Online Casinos Banned?

The fact is that New Zealand’s gambling laws do not apply to foreign nations. This means that overseas-based sites are not illegal. It also means that locals are not banned from using the sites. The only caveat is that the local government also isn’t responsible for safety at these sites. Those that sign up and play do so at their own risk.

The upside is that most foreign operators do function ethically. Locals that choose to gamble in this fashion should simply be careful. Helpful review sites weed out ethical sites from those that are questionable. It is important that any gambling site used to be licensed. It is also important that the site have a good reputation. All this information is available at a review site.

Differences Between Local and Foreign Online Casinos

Those that decide to stick to locally run sites will notice certain restrictions. Operators based within New Zealand are required to abide by a strict set of rules. This means that foreign online casinos tend to have a better selection of games. It also isn’t just the selection of games that will be limited. Local sites are also required to limit the amount of money they may pay out.

It all comes down to the New Zealand regulatory system in effect. The government considers online casino games to be in 4 categories. Depending on which games are offered, the operator must abide by the corresponding laws. Let’s take a closer look.

Class 1 Games

The first set of laws applies to games where there is no commission sharing. Those that operate on this level must be authorized agents. As part of the arrangement, no prize can be awarded to a player that exceeds US$500. Operators using this model do not require a specific license from the government. They are still required to operate within the established regulatory framework.

Class 2 Games

This group also includes no commission games. In this category Class 2 operators also don’t require a license. The caveat of this class is that no prizes may be awarded over the amount of US$5,000. The operation itself may also not earn revenue that exceeds US$25,000.

Class 3 Games

In Class 3 the gambling activities are commissioned. This means that the operation is directly overseen by the Department Of Internal Affairs. Most important is that in this case gambling is intended for raising money. The Department Of Internal Affairs will investigate and ensure that the money-raising organization is legit. The main games offered are lotteries, as would be expected. The operator must be licensed and may not offer a prize in excess of $5,000.

Class 4 Games

It is in the 4th class that online casino games fall. This is where pokies, Roulette, Poker, and other popular games are categorized. In order to offer the games, an operator must be licensed. Any money earned in offering the games must be justified to the government. In other words, proceeds should explicitly be used to enhance social welfare.

Looking at these regulations it is clear why locally run gambling operations are so scarce. It also becomes clear why New Zealand-based online casinos are so few and far between. Thankfully foreign operators are not obliged to follow the same rules.

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