Land Based Casinos in New Zealand: How Many Are There?

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All casinos in New Zealand must be licensed to operate. There are six land-based casinos in New Zealand, regulated by the 2003 Gambling Act. The Act states that no new licences will be granted to land-based casinos in New Zealand. However, the existing six casinos can maintain and renew their licences to continue trading. Wellington, the capital city of New Zealand, is the largest major city without a casino. Four of the six casinos in New Zealand are operated by a company named SkyCity. 

The six casinos in New Zealand are as follows:

  • Christchurch Casino
  • Grand Casino Dunedin 
  • SkyCity Auckland
  • SkyCity Hamilton
  • SkyCity Queenstown
  • SkyCity Wharf Casino 

SkyCity Wharf Casino, located in Queenstown, has been maintaining its licence but is not currently operating. Its website notes it is closed until further notice and it has been closed since the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. SkyCity has announced it will not renew its licence, which expires on 11 September 2024. Resources are instead to be directed to SkyCity Queenstown, located in the same city. 

Quick Facts About All New Zealand Casinos

CasinoAddressWebsiteAmenitiesOpening Hours
Christchurch Casino30 Victoria Street, Christchurch Central City, Christchurch 8013, New Zealandhttps://christchurchcasino.co.nz 450 pokies machines. A restaurant, bar & lounge and sports bar. Table games. A poker room. VIP gaming services. Local dedicated parking. TAB facility.  Open 12pm to 12am on weekdays. 12pm to 2am on weekends
Grand Casino Dunedin 118 High Street, Central Dunedin, Dunedin 9016, New Zealandhttps://grandcasino.co.nz On-site bar & restaurant. 150 gaming machines. Table games and VIP experiences.Open 12pm to 12am on weekdays. 12pm to 2am on weekends
SkyCity AucklandCorner Victoria and, Federal Street, Auckland CBD, Auckland 1010, New Zealandhttps://skycityauckland.co.nz Two hotels with a third opening in 2024. Large car park with 1960 spaces. 17 bars and restaurants. SkyCity Theatre. 2,100 pokies machines and 150 table games as well as VIP gaming services including poker rooms. SkyTower observation deck. TAB facility.Open 24 hours a day
SkyCity Hamilton346 Victoria Street, Hamilton Central, Hamilton 3204, New Zealandhttps://skycityhamilton.co.nz On-site parking. Seven bars & restaurants. A business conference centre. A bowling alley. Casino facilities including 330 gaming machines, 23 table games and VIP gaming services.Open all day Saturday & Sunday. Open  10am to 4am on weekdays. 
SkyCity QueenstownStratton House Level 2/16-24 Beach Street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealandhttps://skycityqueenstown.co.nz One restaurant. Casino facilities including 86 pokies machines, eight gambling tables and VIP facilities. Self-service TAB facilities.Open 11am to  12am Every day 
SkyCity Wharf CasinoStratton House Level 2/16-24 Beach Street, Queenstown 9300, New Zealandhttps://skycityqueenstown.co.nz/wharf-casino/ None – currently closedNot currently operating

SkyCity Auckland Casino

SkyCity Auckland is the largest and most profitable casino in New Zealand. It is the only casino in Auckland, New Zealand’s biggest city. It opened on 02 February 1996 and has been trading ever since. It is located at the bottom of Sky Tower, the tallest building in New Zealand. The tower itself is an attraction, with tourists and visitors taking the lift to the top to see the panoramic views of Auckland. The site underwent significant renovations in 2016. 

The casino itself has a full suite of gambling products for punters to place a wager, including slot machines, poker tables, multiple roulette tables, blackjack tables, many attended by dedicated dealers. It has the largest selection of gambling facilities in the country. Rather than just a casino, SkyCity Auckland markets itself as an entertainment complex. In addition to its extensive casino offering, it has two hotels on-site, the 4.5-star SkyCity Hotel and the 5-star The Grand by SkyCity. Horizon by SkyCity, a third hotel, is due to open sometime in 2024 and will be 5-stars. There is also a theatre with a 700-seat auditorium. Bowl and Social, a ten-pin bowling alley, is located on-site at SkyCity Auckland. 

In 2023, the Department of Internal Affairs recommended that SkyCity’s licence be suspended for ten days for failure to address problem gambling. A decision on this suspension is due to be made later in 2024.

SkyCity Wharf Casino

SkyCity Wharf Casino initially opened in 1999. It is located in Queenstown and has been maintaining its licence in recent years but is not currently operating. Queenstown is a popular tourist destination and many previous visitors to the casino were tourists. It is the smallest city in New Zealand to have a casino and for more than two decades had two functioning sites.

Its website notes it is closed until further notice and it has been closed since the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. SkyCity has announced it will not renew its licence, which expires on 11 September 2024. Resources are instead to be directed to SkyCity Queenstown, located in the same city.

They had initially expressed an interest in relocating the venue elsewhere, but the licence stipulates that the venue cannot move within the city or the country, as this would be seen as opening a new casino, which is prohibited.

It did not have the same restaurant facilities as SkyCity Queenstown, which is in the same locality, and SkyCity noted it was more challenging to operate the venue at a profit. Private landlords also own the site, meaning SkyCity could not make other use of the property. Once SkyCity Wharf Casino officially closes in September, only five remaining casinos will be available.

SkyCity Queenstown

SkyCity Queenstown is the only casino in Queenstown since SkyCity Wharf Casino closed. Much of its traffic comes from tourism, with Queenstown remaining a popular attraction for visitors. Like its Wharf Casino counterpart, it opened to the public in 1999. It is also much larger than its counterpart, with facilities including a restaurant named Wild Thyme Bar & Kitchen, which serves a lunch, snack, and dinner menu every day and evening. There is also a function room where business and other events are held.

Should someone wish to place an in-person wager on sports or racing, SkyCity Queenstown is the best place to do so with the only full-service TAB facility in the city.

Due to its central position in Queenstown CBD, SkyCity Queenstown does not have a parking facility. However, multiple paid parking facilities are within walking distance of the casino.

The casino itself has a full suite of casino games but remains the smallest casino in New Zealand. Despite this, with its TAB facility, 86 pokies machines, VIP facilities and full array of table games, punters are not short of options to place a bet.

SkyCity Hamilton

SkyCity Hamilton first opened in 2002. It is part of the Riverside Centre on the Waikato River. Despite being the fourth largest city in New Zealand, Hamilton is the third largest to have a casino, as Wellington does not have one and is larger.

The casino has a wide array of gambling services, boasting over 330 Gaming Machines and 23 Table Games. There are also VIP gaming services available, including Salon 8, a table game area specifically for members.

Aside from gambling facilities, the SkyCity Hamilton site has multiple other amenities. Like SkyCity Auckland, it has a Bowl and Social, a dedicated bowling alley. In addition to this, there are six bars and restaurants on the site. Keen golfers can also access X-Golf, a golf simulator located at the casino. The site is also used as a venue for conferences, functions, and events.

SkyCity Hamilton has a car park with 330 spaces on site, available to customers during opening hours. Some SkyCity members can park there for free but standard visitors must pay per hour.

Grand Casino Dunedin

Previously and also known as Dunedin Casino, Grand Casino Dunedin opened in 1999. It was renamed in 2021. Situated in the Southern Cross Hotel, built in 1883, it is housed in a heritage listed building. Because of its location and being in an old-style building, Grand Casino Dunedin has no dedicated parking. However, being in the CBD, there are multiple paid car parks nearby.

Part of the casino’s profits are donated to the The Dunedin Casino Charitable Trust, an organisation responsible for supporting community initiatives in Dunedin and the surrounding areas. The casino also prides itself on encouraging responsible gambling.

The Grand Bar and Restaurant, the casino’s dedicated eatery, is on-site and open daily from midday. On the smaller side of New Zealand Casinos, Grand Casino Dunedin offers Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat, Caribbean Stud Poker, and over 150 electronic gaming machines.

Christchurch Casino

Christchurch Casino was the first casino to open in New Zealand. It opened its doors in 1994. Christchurch is the second largest city in New Zealand, after Auckland, to have a casino.

There is a wide selection of gambling facilities at Christchurch Casino. They have 450+ gaming machines, gaming lounges and a range of table games. In addition to this, there is a gaming lounge for VIPs, accessible by invite only. The casino has one TAB facility available, located on the second floor. Christchurch hosts the New Zealand Poker Championships annually, one of the largest events of its kind in New Zealand.

Aside from gambling facilities, it has three bars and restaurants, a sports bar, a cocktail bar, and a more general café and eatery. It has two local car parks, which are free for members during opening hours and available at a cost to the general public.

Christchurch Casino is majority owned by Skyline Enterprises, but SkyCity, the largest operator of casinos in New Zealand, also owns a minority share. Plans are in place for the casino to build a hotel adjacent to its current site.

Popularity of Land-Based Casinos in New Zealand

Land-based casinos are a popular attraction in New Zealand. All of the physical casinos in New Zealand are based in major cities to attract the dense local population and tourists alike. New Zealand as a nation is a highly popular tourist destination, with over 3 million visitors from overseas each year.

Pokies machines are a feature of New Zealand culture, and despite appearing in many locations throughout the country, they are most readily available in casino locations.

New Zealand casinos are not just popular for their gambling offerings. They also host other entertainment modes, such as theatres, bars, sports screens and restaurants. This makes them an attractive proposition for tourists and locals seeking entertainment. 

Comparing Land-Based Casinos with Online Casinos in New Zealand

Online casinos are partially illegal in New Zealand. The government will not issue licences to new casinos, either land-based or online. That being said, Christchurch Casino and SkyCity both own online casinos—https://christchurchcasino.com/ and https://www.skycitycasino.com/. Both casinos can operate in New Zealand because they have an offshore gaming licence from MGA (Malta Gaming Authority)

If Kiwis wish to play online casino games and bet that way, they can access online casinos hosted in other countries. 

The online gambling market continues to grow worldwide, and New Zealand is no exception, with the online market expected to grow by 5.5% per year between 2024 and 2029 according to statista.com. Revenue in the online market is anticipated to reach US$1.25bn in 2024, with online casinos making up US$0.64bn of this number. People find gambling online to be more accessible and convenient than travelling to a land-based casino. For example, online services are accessible to anyone in any location at any time of day, rather than land-based services which have a physical location and set opening hours. 

However, land-based casinos remain popular due to the social experience, as people can easily attend the casino and their associated amenities with friends, family and colleagues. This can, however, make them more expensive due to the associated entertainment costs, which can make online casinos the cheaper option. 

While land-based casinos offer memberships and VIP programs, online casinos also offer incentives to players. Land-based casinos with their memberships and programs offer private rooms, including food and drink and other benefits like free parking. Online casinos tend to offer more monetary incentives where members receive free bets, better sports odds or free spins on gaming machines. Memberships can be signed up to or purchased at land-based casinos. Online casinos usually require a regular stake of a certain amount to maintain membership. 

From an environmental point of view, online casinos are better for the planet. They take up less space, and have fewer lighting and energy costs. Their physical apparatus does not end up in landfills like that of land-based casinos and they do not create excess food waste like the hotels and restaurants of physical casinos. While online casinos require energy to host servers, this does not compare to the energy use of electronic gaming machines. 

The minimum age to enter the gambling area of a casino in New Zealand is 20. However, people as young as 18 may gamble online. 

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.