New Zealand’s gambling industry is worth an estimated $2 billion each year. With business booming and such a large number of active gamblers, regulation is an undeniable necessity.
The Gambling Act of 2003
There are many components of the Gambling Act of 2003, but one of the most important is the age of participation. Under New Zealand gaming law, players must be 20 or older to gamble inside a casino. Anyone wanting to place a sports bet, play the lottery, or buy a scratch card must be 18 or older.
In addition to setting regulations on age, the eight main goals of the 2003 act include:
- Control the growth of gambling
- Minimize problems with gambling addiction and the damage done to families as well as society as a result
- Make it easier to gamble responsibly
- Maintain fairness and integrity, both in online gaming and in person
- Make sure the required portion of proceeds from the games are given back to the community
- Make sure gaming machines are only placed in locations where they are allowed
- Reduce the chance for crime and dishonesty
- Verify that the groups running the machines are accountable, responsible, and qualify as societies
Online Gambling and the New Zealand Gambling Act of 2003
The New Zealand Gambling Act of 2003 generally applies to land-based casinos and bookmakers, but ever since online gambling hit the scene, it has been amended so that it now refers to all live activities, as well as “remote” betting. This includes:
- Online casinos
- Online poker
- Online bingo
- Online lotteries
- All forms of mobile betting
Understandably, many people get confused when it comes to deciphering how that pertains to an online casino that NZ citizens want to play in. This law only applies to remote gambling within New Zealand. Players in New Zealand are allowed to gamble for real money in the case of overseas betting.
To clarify, this means that players can’t place online bets with an operator that is based in New Zealand. Instead, they must place bets with operators based outside of New Zealand. Essentially, players in New Zealand aren’t prevented from betting online. Instead, offshore companies aren’t allowed to advertise their services within New Zealand. You can find more information on this as well as online casino NZ sites where New Zealand players can legally play for real money by going to our free spins page.
Who Controls Online Gambling in New Zealand?
All gaming is controlled and licensed by the Department of Internal Affairs. This department maintains strict guidelines for each legal gambling class. These classes of gambling are determined by the prize values and methods of gaming.
Class 1 gambling is restricted from prizes or turnover greater than $500. All proceeds from the gambling, interest included, if done by a single person, must be applied to the winners. Class 1 gambling is the only class that can be conducted by individuals.
Class 2 gambling is required to have prizes with a total value between $500 and $5,000. The potential turnover must exceed $500 but can’t exceed $25,000. Class 2 gambling doesn’t require a license, but it has to be conducted by societies as defined in the Gambling Act mentioned earlier.
Class 3 gambling has to have prizes that value a total of more than $5,000. Class 4 gambling usually refers to gambling that uses gaming machines. Classes 3 and 4 have to be conducted with a license.
Governmental Agencies that Regulate Gambling
There are four governmental agencies that regulate gambling in New Zealand. Below are details of each of the agencies and their responsibilities.
The Department of Internal Affairs
- Writes legislation pertaining to gambling
- In charge of licensing gambling activities, except casinos
- Prosecutes violators of the law
- Educates the public about the law
The Ministry of Health
- Provides services for problems gamblers
- Funds services for problem gamblers
- Published the three-year plan for Preventing and Minimizing Gambling Harm in 2011-2013, in addition to a six-year strategic plan for 2011-2016
The Gambling Commission
- Manages all licensing for casinos, including new licenses and license renewals
- Reviews agreements between casino operators and the casino license holders, including any adjustments to the agreements
- Manages all complaints pertaining to the way the Department of Internal Affairs handles complaints related to Class 4 gambling
- Specifies and revokes conditions for casino licenses
- Advises Ministers of the current situation related to problem gambling
- Receives and makes decisions on appeals to the Department of Internal Affairs’ regulatory and licensing decisions
The New Zealand Lotteries Commission
- Regulates all lotteries in New Zealand
- Passes profits on to the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board
Recent Updates to Online Casino Laws in New Zealand
As recently as August 2019, the New Zealand Government has expressed an interest in keeping its laws and regulations up to date. New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs released a survey regarding an expansion of the current laws pertaining to online gambling activities.
The DIA felt the need to address the fact that New Zealand is reported to have “grey laws” which means there isn’t any legislation banning offshore online casinos or bookmakers from targeting their citizens.
An NZ DIA official was quoted saying, “We need to update our laws for today’s digital world and future-proof them as much as possible.”
Considering how much has changed in the last decade alone, it is entirely accurate to say that New Zealand’s gambling laws can be considered out of date since there haven’t been any major changes to the Gambling Act of 2003.
The goal of the DIA is to regulate the industry and while simultaneously earning the government tax. A reported $3 million are spent in offshore casinos and betting sites each year. The DIA claims, as it always has, that they are motivated by the safety of its country’s citizens. By regulating online gambling, not only would the DIA gain better control of its citizens’ gambling habits, but the country as a whole would benefit financially from having locally operated online casinos. It will be nothing short of interesting to see how things play out.
There are also some sites that are obeying the law to their full extent of course, like Skycity Casino as seen on Skytown.