New Zealand Gambling Regulations

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Gambling is highly regulated in New Zealand and is illegal in many cases. Bookmaking was first outlawed in 1920. Nevertheless, there are several legal channels whereby individuals can gamble and it remains a popular pastime throughout the nation. 

Gambling in New Zealand – Rules and Regulations

The 2003 Gambling Act is the primary source of regulation for gambling in New Zealand. The act aims to prevent gambling harm throughout the nation. 

Gambling in New Zealand is regulated by the Department of Internal Affairs, located in Wellington, the country’s capital. Within the department is the Gambling Compliance Group, who are responsible for making sure licensed operators follow legislation provided by the Gambling Act. They are responsible for monitoring gambling activities throughout the nation.  

The Totalisator Agency Board, known as TAB New Zealand, is responsible for regulating sports betting, including horse and dog racing. It was previously known as the New Zealand Racing Board or NZRB, and the Racing Industry Transition Agency or RITA. The aim of the regulatory authorities is to prevent gambling harm in New Zealand and make sure it is carried out in a safe, responsible and legal manner. 

The New Zealand Lotteries Commission, also known as LottoNZ, is responsible for conducting, regulating and operating lotteries in New Zealand. 

Manatū Hauora, the Ministry of Health, is responsible for tackling problematic gambling harm and addiction in the country. 

How does New Zealand regulate online gambling compared to land-based casinos?

Online gambling sites have different rules to land-based casinos in New Zealand. All casinos must maintain a license to continue operating. There are no online casinos or betting apps hosted in New Zealand, as they are illegal, and the New Zealand government will not issue any new casino licenses. However, sites with servers overseas are accessible to New Zealand

The authorities also will not grant any new licences to land-based casinos. They will only renew the existing licences of those already established. All existing casinos must ensure they always comply with the licence requirements in order to maintain their permit and avoid punitive measures. 

An exception to the regulation of online gaming platforms is TAB New Zealand. Whilst bookmaking is illegal in New Zealand, TAB runs an online sports betting website, www.tab.co.nz, which has an equivalent mobile app. This is the only online betting platform that is hosted in New Zealand.   

Types of gambling activities in New Zealand

There are multiple types of popular gambling activity in New Zealand. There are six physical casinos throughout the country. The largest is SkyCity Auckland, which is located in Auckland. Notably, Wellington does not have a casino. Many bars and clubs contain pokies machines, also known as slot machines or online gaming machines. 

Horse racing and sports betting are also popular methods of gambling in New Zealand. TAB New Zealand runs betting shops, a mobile app and a phone service to allow Kiwis to gamble on racing and sports. 

There are several types of lottery in New Zealand, including the Lotto and other games such as Keno and Bullseye.  

New Zealanders are also permitted to gamble in private between themselves, be it on sports, card games, or anything else of their choosing, so long as it does not meet the definition of bookmaking. 

Latest Gambling Stats & Trends in New Zealand

In 2022, New Zealanders lost a total of NZ$1.87 billion on gambling, equating to between 1% and 1.3% of GDP. An estimated 80% of adult New Zealanders gamble in some form. 9.2% of New Zealanders gamble online. This number is increasing and is expected to reach 11.3% by 2027. Around 10% of New Zealanders bet on sports and racing. 

Pokies are the most popular form of gambling in New Zealand. There are approximately 18,000 pokies machines in New Zealand, with the majority being in pubs and clubs. 

30% of all gambling losses in New Zealand come from problem gamblers. 

What percentage of gambling revenue is allocated to community funding?

In 2019, 40% of revenue from pokies was distributed to community funding. The New Zealand Lotto gives 100% of its profits to community initiatives, which is regulated by the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board. TAB New Zealand helps fund community sporting initiatives through sponsorships and grants.  

Can tourists participate in gambling activities in New Zealand?

Tourists are allowed to gamble in New Zealand. They are subject to the same laws as New Zealand residents and citizens. 

What is the relationship between problem gambling rates and available support services in New Zealand?

In 2018, it was estimated that 76,000 New Zealanders were at high risk of harm from problematic gambling behaviours. People in disadvantaged areas and communities in New Zealand are three times more likely to be problem gamblers. Specifically, pokies are a source of addiction, with 50% of machines placed in low socio-economic areas. 

Support services in New Zealand are led by the Problem Gambling Foundation or PGF. They launched the Gambling Helpline New Zealand to curb the rising problem gambling in New Zealand. The helpline offers crisis support services for those in need. 

The number of services available to New Zealanders has increased over the years, with regulation tightening. In 2022, the Ministry of Health stated that problem gambling rates were at their lowest since the 1990s, although the number of problem gamblers is higher due to a larger population. 

What innovations in online gambling have been introduced in New Zealand recently?

In 2023, the Department of Internal Affairs recommended that SkyCity’s licence be suspended for ten days for failure to address problem gambling on their premises. A decision on this suspension is due to be made later in 2024. The PGF and the support services they provide are funded by the Problem Gambling Levy, which is a taxation on gambling profits. Casino operators must pay 0.87% of their profits, gaming machines operators must pay 1.08%, TAB must pay 0.76% and the New Zealand Lotteries Commission must pay 0.44%. These rates are reviewed every three years.

The Ministry of Health is due to spend NZ$76.12m from 2022 to 2025, up from NZ$15.8m from 2019-2022, to help tackle gambling addiction, funded by an increase in the levy. 

TAB allows customers to set betting limits through their app and online to prevent excessive and harmful losses. 

How do gambling laws in New Zealand address underage gambling?

There are staggered gambling laws in New Zealand. Casinos, or at least the gambling sections of them, are prohibited to those under the age of 20. People under the age of 20 are still free to enter unrestricted areas such as the bar or restaurant. Other types of gambling in New Zealand have different laws. Some lotteries in New Zealand have no age restriction, such as Keno or Play 3. However, instant win games and regularly drawn lotteries are restricted to those over the age of 18. You must be 18 years old to gamble on horse racing or sports matches. 

Lawbreakers can be fined up to $500. If someone old enough tries to place a bet on their behalf, they can be fined up to $1000. Casinos such as Sky City also operate policies where underage gamblers are banned from the establishment for two years, even if they turn 20 during that time. 

Alfie
Writer

Alfie, hailing from New Zealand, has channeled his creativity into a flourishing writing career. Formerly a private investigator, he transitioned to full-time writing in 2019. Alfie's diverse interests fuel his work, particularly in exploring topics such as casino and gambling legislation, among other subjects. His unique background lends a distinctive insight to his detailed explorations and analyses in his writings.