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Legal online gambling in New Zealand and an imminent new tax

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Learn how to gamble online in New Zealand legally and how the government plans to recoup lost offshore casino revenue.

Gambling is an incredibly popular pastime in New Zealand, with the latest polls showing that more than 80% of the adult population have placed a bet or enjoyed a casino game.

According to data from the Department of Internal Affairs, Kiwis spent nearly $600 million at land-based venues in 2022. It also projected that with the growing popularity of digital gambling, locals would spend more than $1 billion at online casinos run by offshore gaming companies in 2023.

The question that often gets asked about online gambling in New Zealand is whether or not it is legal. Join us as we delve into the licensing, legality and gambling regulations in New Zealand and explain how to gamble online as a Kiwi legally.

Regulated land-based casino entertainment

Gambling is a well-run legal business in New Zealand, with the country offering a large number of licensed venues and types of gambling for local enthusiasts to enjoy. 

The most commonly enjoyed types of gambling in the region include:

  • Brick-and-mortar casinos
  • Pokie machines (not hosted by casinos)
  • Land-based betting shops
  • Betting on horses at the TAB
  • The National Lottery
  • Buying scratch cards

To legally offer any of the above activities in the country, operators must follow a rigorous licensing and review process to ensure they can honour player deposits and withdrawals and have no ties to criminal organisations.

Read more about the land-based casinos in New Zealand

Online gambling is unregulated by legal

Despite the popularity of the aforementioned land-based gambling opportunities, more and more Kiwis are turning to online casinos and sportsbooks for their daily entertainment. It is estimated that 80% of the gambling population frequent online offshore gambling sites.

Rather than retaliate against its online players, the New Zealand government has legalised its citizens to gamble online at these unlicensed websites. Still, it warns that the player has no legal recourse should they have trouble redeeming their winnings.

It is, however, illegal for an offshore provider to set up their gambling business in New Zealand and then target local players. Kiwis are only legally allowed to gamble at sites outside New Zealand.

Plans to claw back offshore gaming revenue

The reality for most regions is that gambling taxes and licensing fees are an invaluable source of revenue for the local government. In many countries, it helps fund grassroots development programs, mental health facilities, sports centres and many more necessary but often underfunded projects.

The New Zealand government is not blind to the fact that none of the projected $1.1 billion spent gambling online with offshore operators will yield any income and is therefore working on an amendment to their Gambling Act that addresses the issue.

The proposed amendment to the country's tax laws would see offshore casino operators agree to a 15% revenue tax for the right to operate in New Zealand. While this may reduce the number of active casinos in the region, it will still add more than $100 million per annum from a sector which currently generates no income for the country.

How is New Zealand gambling health?

Thankfully, New Zealand is proving to be a country where widespread gambling is not harming the community's health. In stark contrast to the standard problem gambling rates of 3%-4% in most other jurisdictions, reports by the local Ministry of Health show that problem gambling rates sit at around 0.4%, with players in the medium to low-risk category coming in at approximately 1.3%.

Choosing the Best Kiwi-Friendly Casino

While there may not be any online casinos that hold licenses from New Zealand yet, we recommend choosing an offshore gambling site that is nonetheless regulated and licensed by the industry's most reputable regulators, such as the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, the Swedish Gambling Authority, and others.

The reason for the recommendation is that these casinos already abide by the guidelines and limitations of well-run and trustworthy jurisdictions. They will likely have a proven record of fair play, a positive community reputation, and well-established processes for paying out player winnings regardless of size.

Published: November 20, 2023

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Article by Polly

CasinoWow Contributor

Hey guys, my name is Polina but my friends and colleagues call me Polly. I am truly passionate about online casino gaming and exploring the different online gambling experiences. I'm really into diving deep into topics and researching all the details. My aim is to gather the best information and write interesting articles for all the readers at CasinoWow.

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