Online Gambling Regulations in New Zealand

According to the Gambling Act (2003), people in New Zealand aren’t explicitly prohibited or deemed to be engaging in illegal activity when they play at any overseas-based casino. The New Zealand Racing Board controls online sports betting in the country. This board is the sole provider of both racing and sports betting-related services in the country.

The same laws apply to online sports betting and betting at online casinos. As a result, betting is legal when managed outside the country but still accepts players from New Zealand. Similar laws apply to online poker, and playing at a foreign casino not based in New Zealand is legal.

Gambling Regulations for NZ Players

Regulations for NZ Players and Online Gambling Sites

The New Zealand government regulates gambling activities in the country. When the Gambling Act of 2003 was passed, online gambling became legal for NZ residents over the age of 18. The catch was to play at casinos located overseas.

Players in the country may enjoy their favourite casino games online at any overseas-based casino that accepts Kiwi players. Kiwis may play poker and participate in sports betting online without worrying about going against the Gambling Act.

This is because these games are not considered part of online gambling. Note that players don’t have to include earnings from gambling when compiling their income tax reports at the end of the year.

A Brief History of Gambling in New Zealand

New Zealanders were betting on cards and athletic competitions all the way back in the 11th century. Betting on horses was also the most popular form of gambling. The first race recorded was in 1835 in the Bay of Islands.

The protestant church opposed gambling leading to restrictions towards the end of the 19th century. From 1910 to the 1980s, people could only bet on lotteries and horse races.

Hammond and McArthur started running art union lotteries in 1932 under government regulation. The Golden Kiwi Lottery started in 1961, and the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) started promoting horse racing betting on horse racing.

The first lotto game happened in July 1987, and by the start of the 2000s. 67% of the population were playing, and around 400,000 people used to watch the weekly draw on TV every Saturday.

Playing on electronic gaming machines first became legal in 1988 for chartered clubs, sports clubs, hotels, and Returned Services Associations. Parliament approved casinos a year later in 1989, and six casinos were built in Auckland, Hamilton, Dunedin, Christchurch, and another two in Queenstown.

The Gambling Act was passed 17 years ago when the internet was developing. As a result, it didn’t consider a lot of factors. Today, domestic online gambling is illegal except for authorised providers.

However, New Zealanders can gamble at overseas-operated casinos legally. There’s a fear that some of these casinos may lack mechanisms to protect players.

Today, the government is making efforts to ensure a regulated and secure online gaming system. This will protect players and allow only trusted providers to operate.

Who Decides What’s Legal?

The Department of Internal Affairs regulates gambling in New Zealand. According to the Gambling Act, there are seven acceptable types of gambling:

  • Lottery
  • Gaming machines
  • Bingo
  • Instant games
  • Lottery
  • Sports betting
  • Keno

Although the act prohibits casino and sports betting activities accessible on electronic devices, this is only for online casinos operating in the country. Players are allowed to play at overseas casinos that accept players from New Zealand.

The Department of Internal Affairs regulates gambling in the country. Alternatively, the NZ Gambling Commission determines and approves operators who apply for licenses. Lotto New Zealand and the Lotteries Commission handle licencing of the lottery organisations.

In 2015, the Gambling (Fees) Regulations Act was introduced. According to the Income Tax Act, players’ winnings from gambling are not liable to taxation. Professional poker players’ earnings are liable to taxation, although there’s no enforcement of this rule yet, as the government lacks mechanisms to determine professional bettors and poker players.

How Are NZ Players Protected?

The Gambling Act (2003) legalised playing at online casinos without a physical presence in New Zealand. This made the NZ government not liable for any misdeeds that may result from players’ gambling activities.

Players are allowed to choose an online casino they enjoy playing at. The government has mechanisms to ensure that the casinos operate professionally and fairly. One way is to ensure that the operators hold licenses from recognised bodies like the UK Gambling Commission and Malta Gaming Authority.

The government also ensures that online casinos warn and protect their customers from the potential dangers of gambling. This may be through responsible gambling options such as self-exclusion, deposit limits, and loss limits.

Safe Online Gambling

Due to the ever-growing number of online casino operators, every casino strives to offer the best to its customers. This may be through 24/7 customer service, allowing various languages and two-factor authentication for security. A casino that seems more secure is very attractive to players who want to bet online.

Online gambling at proven casinos is also safe since reputable operators offer responsible gaming options to players. This may include allowing them to set limits on deposits, take self-exclusion breaks, or providing them with links to organisations where they can find professional help. Here at Betkiwi we strive to only work with casinos that follow responsible gambling practices while upholding the highest security and fairness standards.

Recent Law Changes

On 28 March 2024, the New Zealand Parliament passed the Taxation (Annual Rates for 2023-24, Multinational Tax, and Remedial Matters) Act 2024, which included modifications to the Gaming Duties Act of 1971.

This legislation introduces a new tax called the ‘offshore gambling duty’ for online casinos based overseas that serve New Zealand residents, who currently are only taxed under the goods and services tax (GST). Starting from 1 July 2024, these operators will incur a 12% duty in addition to GST, bringing their total tax burden on gross betting revenue to around 25%.

The new duty excludes offshore operators that offer betting on sports and racing events. The earnings from these betting services will remain subject to a 10% ‘point of consumption charge,’ in addition to the standard GST and product fees.

Offshore gaming companies will have to file returns and remit the offshore gambling duty quarterly, in line with their existing schedule for GST payments.

Why Gambling Regulations Are Important To Us

New Zealand’s gambling regulations are of utmost importance for our team at Betkiwi. They directly impact our content and the recommendations we make, as we always strive to provide content that aligns with the current laws and regulations. By keeping up with the latest gambling laws and bills, we can give our players with accurate and up-to-date information on the state of the industry.

FAQs About Online Gambling Regulations in New Zealand

The world of online gambling regulations can be complicated and confusing to navigate. If you still have more questions, perhaps the following section will likely have the answers you seek:

Is online gambling legal in New Zealand?

Yes, however, players will have to play at overseas or online venues, as physical casino venues are not allowed in New Zealand.

Who regulates gambling in NZ?

Gambing regulation in New Zealand comes under the jurisdiction of the Department of Internal Affairs.

At what age can you play at casinos or sportsbooks?

While it’s impossible to gamble locally at brick-and-mortar casinos (since they’re forbidden in New Zealand), Kiwis can start playing at online casinos and sportsbooks after they turn 18.

What are the risks of online gambling?

The largest risk is related to dishonest casinos that may have unfair terms & conditions or will refuse to pay out their players. This can easily be mitigated by only visiting trusted online gaming venues, such as the casinos we recommend on our page.

Do I have to pay taxes on my gambling winnings?

No. Since you are only allowed to play at online casinos based outside of New Zealand territory, you’ll be allowed to keep 100% of your winnings.

Can I play at online casinos using NZD?

While there are plenty of casinos that support NZD, not all of them do. It’s best to check for each site individually, or read reviews of our recommended casinos, most of which support NZD deposits and withdrawals.

Do online casinos offer fair play?

Most of them do, but not all. It’s important to find casinos that operate under valid gambling licenses and can prove they undergo regular independent audits. You can find numerous such sites recommended by us here at Betkiwi.