Online Casino Laws in New Zealand

Updated Updated: December 24, 2020
nz online casinos laws

Did you know that New Zealand’s gambling industry is worth nearly NZ $2 billion each year? The business is growing exponentially and with more and more players registering in online casinos, the future of virtual gambling looks promising.

The booming business also means the need for regulation. 

The Gambling Act of 2003

Just like any other gambling acts, this one covers a range of individual regulations. Undoubtedly, the age of gambling participation is one of the key details. Players must be 20 years or older to be allowed inside a casino. Sports betting enthusiasts, lottery players and scratch cards lovers must be at least 18 years old.

Apart from the regulation on age, the eight main goals of the 2003 act include:

  • Control the growth of the gambling industry
  • Be on guard of safe gambling and protecting vulnerable players
  • Create easier ways to gamble responsibly
  • Maintain fairness and integrity in both traditional and online gaming
  • Ensure the required portion of the profit from the games is given back to the community
  • Make sure gaming machines only appear in places where they are allowed
  • Minimise the chance for crime and dishonesty
  • Ensure the groups running the machines are reliable and qualify as societies

The Case of Online Gambling Law in New Zealand

The above-mentioned New Zealand Gambling Act of 2003 clearly refers mostly to brick-and-mortar casinos and bookmakers, however, with the emergence of online gambling spaces, it had been amended to cover all live and remote activities. These include:

  • Online casino
  • Online poker
  • Online bingo
  • Online lotteries
  • Mobile betting

The confusion comes when one has to decide which operator to choose. Under the NZ lat, players are allowed to gamble for real money in the case of overseas betting. In other words, players can’t place online bets with an operator that is based in New Zealand but have to choose a remote operator.

Legally, though, players in New Zealand aren’t forbidden to bet online. Offshore bookies are not allowed to advertise their offering within New Zealand. 

Who Controls Online Casinos in New Zealand?

All gambling activities are controlled and licensed by the Department of Internal Affairs. It dictates guidelines for each legal gambling class:

Class 1 – gambling is restricted from prize or turnover bigger than NZ $500. All profit including the interest must be applied to the winners. Class 1 gambling refers to individuals.

Class 2 – gambling must cover prizes with a total value between NZ $500 and $5000. The turnover must exceed $500 but can’t go beyond $25000. Class 2 gambling is not required to possess a licence but must be conducted by societies as defined in the Gambling Act.

Class 3 – gambling prizes must exceed the value of $5000. The licence is required.

Class 4 – gambling usually refers to the use of gaming machines. It requires a license.

Governmental Organisations that Oversee Gambling in New Zealand

There are 4 national agencies that regulate gambling in New Zealand:

  • The Department of Internal Affairs

This agency writes legislation on gambling and is in charge of licensing gambling activities, with the exception of casinos. It’s the agency’s responsibility to educate the public about the gaming law.

  • The Ministry of Health

The ministry provides help for problem gamblers and funds the support services.

  • The Gambling Commission

The organisation manages all licensing for casinos, including issuing new and renewing expired licenses. It reviews agreements made between casino operators and casino license holders.

  • The New Zealand Lotteries Commission

The agency regulates and oversees all lotteries in the country.

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