Gambling in its different forms has been a popular pastime among New Zealand residents for many years. Betting and gambling activities had been subjected to rigorous regulation in the past, but now everyone can partake in gambling activities regulated by the country's Department of Internal Affairs (DIA).

Everyone residing in New Zealand can legally participate in sports betting and lotteries, play on slot machines (or pokies as they're known in Australia and New Zealand) and play casino games at offshore online casinos. 2020 saw record-breaking gambling spend in New Zealand, with figures from the Department of Internal Affairs showing that Kiwis spent $631m on Lotto tickets, while the spend on pokies was the equivalent of every adult spending $204.

According to the chairperson of the Gaming Machine Association, Peter Dengate Thrush, the increase in gambling is a reflection of a broader trend in New Zealand's economy, as well as a much-needed boost to local communities, as the law stipulates that 40% percent of poker machine proceeds must be distributed as grants.

In light of these figures, it's clear that gambling is not only nowhere near losing its appeal but is becoming more accessible. According to the NZ National Gambling Study, which was carried out over four years, the percentage of New Zealanders who have gambled was 80% in 2012 and 75% in 2015. So, casinos in New Zealand are naturally preparing for licenses to meet the growing demand.

Gambling Legislation in New Zealand

According to the Gambling Act of 2003, all gambling in New Zealand is regulated by the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA). It defines four classes of gambling that may need different licenses depending on the size of prizes and turnover amount. Casinos are required to have a Class 3 license from the Gambling Commission of New Zealand. At present, six casinos have been issued such licenses.

Although all land-based casinos can apply for licenses, online operators based in New Zealand are not regulated by the DIA and aren't licensed by the Gambling Commission, which virtually makes online gambling at local operators for New Zealanders illegal. However, a loophole in legislation makes it perfectly legal for local residents to play at online casinos based overseas.

This opens opportunities for big brands which are licensed in other countries to tap into the New Zealand online gambling potential and change the way Kiwis gamble. Playing at casino sites not based out of New Zealand is perfectly legal, and many iGaming brands have made their services available to local residents. Sites like Zamsino keep track of the latest casinos that have opened up for business on the New Zealand market.

Online Gambling Options

The only gambling activities allowed to be carried out online from operators based in New Zealand are lottery and sports and horse racing through TAB, which is New Zealand's statutory monopoly for sports betting. These are also the only real-money gambling apps available on the Play Store in New Zealand. With the many opportunities that offshore operators offer online, including lower minimum age, TAB was prompted to launch a campaign against offshore operators.

In a series of videos featuring several famous New Zealand sports personalities, the operator showed the potential benefits of betting revenue lost offshore, estimated at NZ$130m ($94.4m). After ordinary taxes, deductions, and operating expenses, it was established that this was $80m lost revenue for the racing and sports industries.

Despite the operator's plea that its commercial success is also a profit for New Zealand's sport, Kiwi gamblers' behavior has shown no indication of giving up on offshore operators' benefits. In a world dominated by technology, players whose average age, according to studies, is dropping lower every year, will naturally look for convenient ways to play their favorite casino slots on their iPhone or other smartphones, even if it means relying on other countries to guarantee their safety online.

Offshore Operators' Appeal to New Zealanders

Although offshore operators can't be issued licenses from the New Zealand Gambling Commission, they are licensed and regulated by the regulatory bodies in the jurisdiction in which they are based, such as the UK Gambling Commission, the Malta Gaming Authority, the Alderney Gambling Control Commission, to name a few. This means that, depending on which casino New Zealanders choose, they will have to adhere to the licensing authority's stipulations.

In effect, this would mean for New Zealand gamblers to comply with the rules and regulations of another country or jurisdiction. With online gambling constantly on the rise, it's clear that this is not a deterrent at all. The benefits that players can find at offshore operators outweigh the drawbacks. One tendency, which becomes evident from the four-year research, is that Kiwi players are getting younger, and offshore operators can cater to this demographic with a minimum age of 18 while the minimum gambling age in New Zealand is 20.

They also offer a wide choice of casino games that would otherwise be inaccessible online, including slots, blackjack, roulette, and more casino staples. Their interest has led to the emergence of sites like Kiwislots, which lists the best pokie offers for New Zealand players.

Other ways these casino sites appeal to the New Zealand segment of their customer base are by offering the New Zealand dollar as a currency that can be used to make deposits and withdrawals. Such online casinos also endorse local payment methods to facilitate banking operations. When it comes to customer care, offshore operators open toll-free phone lines to make it as easy as possible for their New Zealand members to reach them.

Besides the anti-offshore campaign led by TAB, New Zealand authorities have done very little to hinder overseas operators' activity. While local gambling brands need to adhere to the code of New Zealand's Advertising Standards Authority, offshore operators are prohibited from advertising their services on the New Zealand market, and that's about as restricted as they have come to be.

The government refreshes its strategy for battling problem gambling every three years, focusing on technology for their 2019-2020 to 2021-2022 Strategy to Prevent and Minimize Gambling Harm and help the most at-risk groups, such as Maori, Pacific people, and those on low incomes. New Zealand's Ministry of Health has pointed out that the highest risk of harmful gambling doesn't come from online sites but from non-casino gaming machines, usually placed in clubs and pubs.

This article is contributed by Awais Dar (ebzpro) Bio: Awais is passionate to write about health, tech , education , finance as well as for business fundamentals & a little bit in igaming industry. He has an experience of 10 years in creating awesome & useful contents to deliver ideas/knowledge to people.