New Zealand is famous for its sporting prowess. Whether it’s rugby, cricket, hockey, or football, teams from the small island nation of five million people consistently rank in the top tier around the world. New Zealand’s sports stars are huge celebrities, with the whole nation getting behind their teams for World Cups and the Olympics, but despite the high profile nature of sport in the country gambling is less popular due to the country’s gambling regulations.

Is gambling legal in New Zealand?

The Gambling Act 2003 and Racing Act 2003 regulate all forms of gambling in New Zealand, and were designed to control the growth of gambling, minimise harms, facilitate responsible gambling, and ensure the integrity and fairness of games. The two acts place strict limits on how and where New Zealanders are able to place bets and play casino games.

Sports betting in new Zealand

Track and sports betting is legal in New Zealand through TAB New Zealand (TAB NZ), which was created under the racing Act 2003 as a statutory monopoly for all forms of sports betting, including betting on horse racing and greyhound racing. TAB NZ has over 180,000 account-holders offers a wide range of totalisator and fixed-odds betting products via its website and apps for Android and iOS. The agency returns around 80 per cent of its revenues to players and it supports grass-roots sports within New Zealand, as it declares on its website:

When you have a punt with the TAB, every dollar contributes to grassroots sports and racing in New Zealand and the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of people involved in these sectors.

Whilst TAB NZ is the only state-sanctioned provider of sports betting products within new Zealand, Kiwis have been known to stake bets on international platforms such as William Hill, Ladbrokes, Betway, Uniway, Sportsbet, and Bet365. None of these platforms directly advertise for New Zealand players, as they are prohibited from doing so under the regulations, but they do advertise for Australian players under that country’s more relaxed gambling laws, and many Kiwis take up those offers.

Casinos in new Zealand

Under the Gambling Act 2003, most casinos are prohibited from operating within New Zealand, with only a handful of operators licensed by the Department of Internal Affairs.

There are only six licensed land-based casinos operating with New Zealand: Dunedin Casino; Christchurch Casino; SkyCity Auckland; SkyCity Hamilton; SkyCity Queenstown; Skycity Wharf Casino. The first of these opened in 1994, with the others slowly being built over the next few decades. The government has no plans to expand this number in the near future.

Similarly to the sports betting rules, most online casino operators are prohibited from advertising directly to New Zealand players or operating within the country. However, it appears that the prohibition on “remote interactive gambling” does not extend to overseas operators which allow New Zealand residents to play casino games using their websites or mobile apps.

There are a wealth of casinos operating online, but as many New Zealanders choose to use online betting operators and casinos that are not officially sanctioned by Wellington, it can be difficult for Kiwis to determine which operators are reliable. Whilst only gambling with officially licensed operators is the most certain way to be assured of reliability, for international brands it is useful to watch out for the licensing mark of the UK Gambling Commission or the Malta Gambling Authority. Both of these bodies license a broad array of operators and make sure they operate safely and openly, with a focus on making sure all games operate with fair and transparent terms.

The house always wins at all casino games, but the house edge” varies between games and between casinos depending on the format of each game they offer. At physical casinos, the probability of the house winning varies from the physical characteristics of the game, such as a roulette wheel have one or two zeros and then every other number black or red. In an online casino, however, players must rely on a random number generator to make sure that the probabilities work as expected. These random number generators should mimic the odds of real games with the technology verifiable as described by the UK Gambling Commission.

Lotteries in New Zealand

Wellington established the New Zealand Lotteries Commission in 1987 in an effort to convince players to choose state-affiliated lotteries that were licensed and fair instead of illegally buying tickets at overseas lotteries such as those in neighbouring Australia. The body’s first lottery was Lotto, but over the last few decades this has been replaced with a variety of official games including a new updated Lotto and Lotto Strike as a daily Keno and the Instant Kiwi scratch cards.

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