Gambling Laws In New Zealand

New Zealand FlagThe Oceania country of New Zealand contains several gambling regulations with a communal focus on the growth and development of gambling to ensure a beneficial environment for Kiwis while minimizing any adverse effects from regulated gaming. Known as the Land of the Long White Cloud, New Zealand has managed to legalize most forms of gambling through a number of regulations all overseen by an appropriate regulatory agency. There are sixteen regions in NZ, four classes of gambling, and five cities with gambling establishments all of whom must be governed by the proper agency without too much overlay.

Active Gambling Laws in New Zealand

The following list contains active gambling regulations in New Zealand. These supersede previously enacted laws which are now either inactive or rewritten to fit modern needs.

Boxing and Wrestling Act 1981 – As administered by the NZ Department of Internal Affairs, or DIA, this Act was created and implemented to provide better regulations concerning the promotion and conduct of Boxing and Wrestling contests. The Boxing and Wrestling Act of 1981 also abolished the regulation over certain amateur wrestling contests, specifically those amateur wrestling contests conducted by, associated, or affiliated with the New Zealand Amateur Wrestling Union or its successors in title.

Racing Act 2003 – As brought into force by the Racing Act Commencement Order 2003 as administered by the Department of Internal Affairs, this Act was deemed to provide effective governance arrangements for the New Zealand racing industry, and facilitate betting on galloping races, harness races, greyhound races, and other sports events. The act also intended to promote long-term viability for racing, fully replace the Racing Act of 1971, and establish the New Zealand Racing Board.

Gambling Act 2003 – This Act replaces the Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1977 and the Casino Control Association Act of 1990 as New Zealand’s primary gambling law which harmonised a regulatory framework for New Zealand gambling. The Gambling Act of 2003 was introduced into Parliament as the Responsible Gambling Bill in early 2002 and was used to control the growth of gambling in New Zealand while preventing and minimizing potential harm from gambling exposure. This Act is the official document concerning the permission and prohibition of gambling game types in New Zealand.

Gambling Amendment Act 2005 – As enacted by the Parliament of New Zealand, the Gambling Amendment Act of 2005 amends the Gambling Act of 2003, known as “the Principal Act” to repeal, insert, and include definitions deemed necessary. For instance, the term “Key Person” in the Principle Act now includes a person who is a director, chief executive, senior manager, or any person the Secretary reasonably believes to have a significant interest in the management, ownership, or operation of a [gambling] venue operator.

Gambling Amendment Act 2015 – Enacted by the New Zealand Parliament, this amendment expands and inserts more definitions to the Principle Act while repealing others to plug loopholes. Specifically, this Amendment revises the provisions relating to each class of gambling, regulatory gambling institutions, and any sections relating to gambling harm prevention, the minimization of such, and enforcement.

Gambling Amendment Act (No. 2) 2015 – As enacted by Parliament, the Gambling Amendment Act no. 2 of 2015 amends certain definitions within the Principle Act concerning class 4 gaming and introduces new definitions concerning other sections of the Principal Act. Aside from the new interpretation inserted over Net Proceeds and others, this Amendment is intended to be the last clarifying piece of legislation to the Principal Act.

Is Gambling Legal in New Zealand?

Yes, all New Zealand gambling is governed under the Gambling Act of 2003 and its following amendments. Individuals must be 18 to play the Lottery, purchase Scratch Cards, and bet on sports and horse races; individuals must be 20 to enter a brick and mortar New Zealand casino. Gambling types not included under the jurisdiction of Gambling Act 2003 are considered unauthorized and prohibited. To date, there are no legal online gambling laws in New Zealand preventing Kiwis from accessing online casinos and sportsbooks hosted outside of New Zealand. Rather some prohibit New Zealanders from accessing domestic online gambling outside of Lottery purchases and Totalisator Agency Board (or TAB) betting services. In Fact, nearly all New Zealand gambling laws are primarily focused on regulating and punishing venue operators – not Kiwi players. Therefore, regulation is strict but not user-restrictive.

Who Regulates Gambling in New Zealand?

New Zealand gambling is regulated by the following agencies in varying degrees and oversight; Parliament, TAB, DIA, New Zealand Gambling Commission, New Zealand Lottery Commission, New Zealand Racing Board, Gambling Compliance Group, Ministry of Health, Ministry of Social Development, National Government, and the Second Labour Government. While some play a more important role than others, smaller regulators also have slight jurisdiction and say in the construction and compliance of legal gambling in New Zealand. Some entities are specially designated to simply observe and record the positive and negative effects of gambling in New Zealand’s society – these are significant departments as their feedback provides insight for future legislative decisions.

Forms of Legal Gambling in New Zealand?

Nearly all forms of gambling are legal within NZ and are permitted through the Gambling Act of 2003 and regulated by the above regulatory agencies, depending on the class and game type. New Zealand gambling laws permit the following forms of gambling:

Housie, Raffles, Art Unions known as Lotteries such as The Golden Kiwi, Games of Chance, Scratch Cards, Instant games, Daily Keno, Poker, Tournament Gambling, Casino Gambling in Dunedin, Christchurch, Auckland, Queenstown, and Hamilton, Pokies, other Gaming Machines, Prize Competitions, Sports Betting, Betting Pools, and Horse and Greyhound Race Betting.

Games are divided into 4 Classes and legal so long as they respect each class’s requirements and the games comply with game rules:

Class 1 – No licence is required for the following types of gambling so long as the house takes no rake and prizes and turnover do not exceed $500 NZD: Housie, Betting Pools, Poker Tournaments, other forms of gambling (excluding Gaming Machines).

Class 2 – No licence required. Usually run by a society, charity, organisation, or business. Proceeds must go to authorised purpose. Generally, these games are raffle-like and can include Lotteries, Prize Competitions, Games of Chance, and Instant Games; prizes must not exceed $5,000 and potential turnover in one session must not exceed $25,000.

Class 3 – Licence required and can only be run by a society or in the event of regular gambling by a corporate society. Money must be raised for authorised purpose. Prizes must exceed $5,000 to enter Class 3 category. Games can include Housie, Larger-scale Lotteries, Instant Games and games found at casino evenings. Cannot involve a gaming machine, directly or indirectly. Review by Department of Internal Affairs for financial viability, cost minimisation, and maximum communal benefits before licence possession required

Class 4 – Any form of gambling which involves the use of a gaming machine outside a brick and mortar casino is considered a Class 4 gambling category. Class 4 game operators must be a corporate society intending to raise money for authorised purposes.

Forms of Legal Online Gambling in New Zealand?

There are no online casinos currently licenced by a New Zealand entity, however, the New Zealand Lottery Commission is permitted to offer online Lottery sales and has since 2008. TAB is also permitted to offer online horse betting directly on their web portal. These two agencies are the only ones allowed to provide Kiwis with domestic online gambling. Otherwise, New Zealand gambling regulations forbid the use of domestic online portals for gambling. This means there is no in-play sports betting, casino games, mobile pokie, housie, and poker if it operates online and domestically.

However, there is no written law prohibiting a New Zealander’s access to online offshore casinos. In fact, New Zealand wholly supports offshore gambling but retain strict anti-advertising laws for offshore venue operators. Offshore operators are not permitted to promote themselves in New Zealand and those who advertise their services to Kiwis either through TV ads, newspaper ads, or other mediums will face penalties up to $10,000 for each offense. However, Kiwi players are free to discover and use offshore gambling sites themselves with no penalty to either operator or player.

History of Gambling in New Zealand

New Zealand gambling has been documented to occur as early as the 1830’s when Kiwis would primarily bet on the outcome of horse races. The very first lottery known as an Art Union in New Zealand was conducted in 1877 to raise money. However, during the 1900’s, acceptance of gambling lessened and began to be seen as corruptible and immoral. Due to these notions, nearly all forms of gambling were illegalized under the NZ Gambling Act of 1908.

Horse betting remained a viable gambling avenue and to fight corruption, famous New Zealand resident invented the Automatic Totalisator or tote board in the early 1900’s which would display the position of the horses, odds, and payouts on a large board to create a cheat-free environment. Despite this, bookmaking was then illegalized in 1920 which made betting anywhere outside of a racetrack illegal. This further limited available gambling venues. However, in 1933 New Zealand introduced the very First National Lotteries which offered small prizes, this continued until the Second Labour Government reviewed them in 1950’s after steep sales declines and non-Kiwi ticket purchasing from overseas. In 1961, the National Government introduced the Golden Kiwi lottery.

New Zealand today is vastly different when it comes to legal gambling than its previously prohibitive state. The New Zealand we know today was slowly molded not only through lotteries and horse racing but also by the introduction of gambling re-legalisation efforts in the 80’s throughout the early 2000’s. Gambling was strictly regulated and controlled until the 1980’s when lottery games, as well as casinos, were approved by the New Zealand Parliament.

A new regulatory agency called the New Zealand Lottery Commission was then established in 1987 to handle all gambling issues, regulations, and governance relating to NZ lotteries and its supplementary games. In 1991 pokies were legalized and introduced shortly after by charities and placed in hotels and bars. A few years after, New Zealand’s first casino opened in Christchurch. Not long after, the Principle Act or Gambling Act of 2003 established a regulatory framework for legal gambling in New Zealand, this absorbed and rewrote many previously enacted laws and regulations into one central document.

What Benefits Does New Zealand’s Gambling Industry Provide?

The largest portion of New Zealand’s gambling industry is operated by state-owned institutions and these gaming entities are required to give back a portion of their gambling proceeds, or profits, back to the community in some way shape or form. By donating this to the community, New Zealand’s gambling institutions can be directly involved in social development, community building, and wellness programs. Often, profits can be used to better educate others, and mitigate and manage the possible adverse social effects of gambling.

Are Winnings Taxable?

In New Zealand gambling is considered a recreational past-time and not an extra income source. This means that 100% of New Zealander’s winning are non-taxable even if earned from overseas online casinos and sportsbooks. However, an exception is made to this in the case of professional poker players if their poker winnings (which should be substantial for this exception to take effect) are the sole or majority source of their income. This makes the winnings received taxable income. Which means unless Kiwi’s fall into this category they do not have to worry about such compliance. However, we recommend consulting a local tax professional on the matter.

What Is the Legal Gambling Age in New Zealand?

There is no age minimum for the purchase of Lotto, Bullseye, Keno or Play 3 tickets. The minimum legal age to gamble in New Zealand for lottery purchases like Instant Play and Instant Kiwi tickets is eighteen. Kiwis and international visitors must be seventeen years or older to buy Daily Keno tickets. Participants may enter and gamble at casinos once they turn twenty. Punters must be at least eighteen to bet on horse races at tracks or through TAB. Using fake IDs to misrepresent the participant’s real age is illegal and can lead to fines up to $500 NZD.

What Gambling is Illegal in New Zealand?

Gambling not authorised by the Gambling Act of 2003 is prohibited and illegal. The following games are prohibited: bookmaking outside of TAB, the use of remote interactive gambling (including domestic gambling) through a communication device outside of being provided by New Zealand’s Lottery Commission and Totalisator Agency Board. The prohibition on remote interactive gambling in New Zealand does not prohibit gambling operations conducted overseas.

The following is also illegal in New Zealand regarding the gambling industry and its regulations: any advertising from an overseas operator published or arranged to be published in New Zealand that promotes gambling outside of New Zealand or the offshore gambling operator who is prohibited to do so under section 16 of the Gambling Act 2003. This offence carries a fine of up to $10,000 NZD under the Gambling Act 2003. The Gambling Act provides penalties for anybody who participates in unauthorised gambling and fines can vary from up to $50,000 for organisations and up to $10,000 for individuals. This includes participants and game conductors.

To further touch on the illegal forms of gambling in New Zealand, one must understand which prizes are prohibited. This is because any game offering these immediately become illegal. These prizes include firearms, explosives, ammunition, restricted weapons, air guns, liquor, tobacco products, taonga tuturu (a New Zealand/Maori protected object), vouchers for sexual services, and vouchers to any of the other property listed above.

Is Illegal Gambling a Problem in New Zealand?

Recent studies in New Zealand have observed the effects of gambling on society and vulnerable individuals for years. From this research, they have discovered that 2 in 5 individuals are at risk of developing a gambling addiction. Therefore, hundreds and thousands of dollars have been poured into problem gambling programs, addiction assistance, and harm minimization strategies. In fact, the Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand offers counseling, support groups, and addiction helplines. Individuals seeking help for themselves or someone else can obtain educational materials and available support group meeting times or reach out to helplines found in our Resources section.

Problem Gambling Help In New Zealand