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New Zealand - online gambling regulations

Published by Niki | July 19, 2020

Online gambling regulations, laws and taxes in New Zealand

Online Gambling might be new to some, but when it comes to New Zealand, gambling is nothing new. In fact, New Zealand has embraced various forms of gambling for centuries. While gambling is considered legal, there is still some confusion regarding the legalities of online gambling.

Online gambling is considered legal, but only if it is played in certain areas which we will be looking into throughout the guide. As a means to understand the laws and regulations surrounding online gambling, we’ll be taking an in-depth look at the history of gambling in New Zealand, also known as the “Land of the Long White Cloud”.

Online gambling regulations, laws and taxes in New Zealand

The History of gambling in New Zealand

Gambling has a very interesting history in New Zealand. Some new inventions were even created here to help in the act of gambling. Back in the 1830s, a very popular gambling form was betting on horse races. In 1913 one resident of New Zealand, George Julius invented the “Automatic Totalisator” which also came to be known as a tote board. This machine was placed in the infield of the tracks during horse races and allowed spectators to keep an eye on the positions the horses were currently standing on in the race. This small invention made a large impact on the sports and gambling industry and can still be seen used today.

Until 1961, bets on horse racing were permitted only at the track. Bookmaking had been proclaimed illegal years before, in the 1920s. In 1961 the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) was established, and this was ultimately the turning point for gambling activities in New Zealand. After the TAB came into existence, the laws regarding gambling became much more lenient. Most types of gambling were off-limits until the laws and regulations changed in the 1980s. It took a little while longer for slot machines and casinos to be deemed legal here. The first casino was only opened in 1994.

Laws that impact gambling in New Zealand today

The Gambling Act of 2003 declared that all forms of gambling are considered illegal if the government has not authorized them. The Gambling Commission was also established this year, and its purpose was to provide licences and the conditions that come with those licences. All gambling activities, as well as the Gambling Commission itself, is run and overseen by the Department of Internal Affairs.

The Gambling Act has been amended twice since it was implemented, once in 2005 and again in 2015, but neither of these amendments changed anything regarding the stance on online gambling.

When it comes to online gambling, the law is pretty clear. It is deemed illegal for any online casino operators to run sites from within the borders of New Zealand. However, New Zealanders have free range to participate in gambling on any online gambling site based outside of the borders. In some respect, this seems redundant and doesn’t make sense, as the online casino industry is constantly growing, and so is the revenue it brings in.

What would make sense is that New Zealand takes control by not just allowing online gambling, but also opening the market for its own residents? Currently, operators are not allowed to launch sites from within the borders, but attracting residents to in-house sites could bring in so much extra potential revenue.

Much like Finland and Norway, however, the country is adamant about using portions of the profit for good. This is why all public gaming entities in New Zealand are required to donate some of their profits towards the improvement of the community.

Are gambling winnings taxable in New Zealand?

One of the main questions to ask when it comes to online gambling and regulations surrounding them is whether or not tax has to be paid on winnings. As a player, it is always hard to watch as your wins suddenly become less after tax. Luckily, because gambling is considered to be a recreational activity rather than a source of income, most players are exempt from paying taxes on their winnings. There are however still cases in which players are required to pay tax on their wins. If a player uses gambling as a primary source of income, then they are required to pay tax. Those who have a stable income from any other source can continue to enjoy their gambling knowing all wins are tax-free.

Is online gambling legal in New Zealand?

Not much has changed since the early 2000s, and online gambling is still a topic that can be confusing for those who don’t understand the law. With the 2003 Gambling Act, online gambling has been declared illegal within the borders of New Zealand. This means that no operators can establish or launch a site within New Zealand as they will be prosecuted. The good news is that players are allowed to legally take part in online gambling activities on international online casino sites.

These operators are, however, not allowed to advertise within New Zealand, so players would have to search for them before getting access. The Department of Internal Affairs has also warned those looking to participate in online gambling that there is no legal protection against scam sites or any illegitimate transfers. In simple words, should you decide to play at any online casino based outside of New Zealand you are on your own if things go south?

Luckily, at CasinoWow we’ve taken the time to review hundreds of online casinos and have created a list of the top-rated casinos worth playing at. Many of these online casinos accept New Zealanders, and some even allow you to play in your own currency. It can be scary to choose an online casino, especially because there are hundreds of them online with new ones popping up every day.

The excitement might lead you towards jumping to sign up at first best one, but it is best to play at online casinos that have been reviewed and are licensed and regulated by some form of gambling authorities. It’s always best to be safe rather than sorry at the end of the day. Take a look at our list of approved and reviewed online casinos with the best welcome bonuses and overall scores.

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