History of casinos and gambling in New Zealand

No, you don’t have to worry, we are not going back to Adam and Eve, we only take a quick look at the short history of gambling in New Zealand. 

Gambling, especially horse racing has been part of the life of New Zealand citizens for quite a long time. Throughout the decades – mainly in the 20th century – the rules regarding gambling changed a lot, sometimes forbidding any activity, in other cases limiting the options.

Today, there are only five casinos in New Zealand, all of them are under governmental supervision but New Zealanders have access to many online casino like New Zealand Spin Palace, Lucky Nugget, Ruby Fortune, and the always popular Jackpot City

Also, there are pokies all around the country, and according to Problem Gambling Foundation of New Zealand, these machines are the biggest danger for those who have a stronger ability to build addictions.

However, horse racing, lotteries are also available, along with online gambling. Let’s take a quick look at these gambling forms and their history.

Horse races

computer mouse over a casino tableThis is one of the oldest forms of gambling in New Zealand, which became popular during the first decades of the 19th century. It was a fine way for the people to have fun, meet with others, and with a bit of luck, make some extra money. Back in those days, it wasn’t necessary to go to the tracks to make a bet: bookmaking was legal until 1910. After that year, if a man wanted to bet on a horse, he had to head town to the track. In 1950, the government created the Totalisator Agency Board. Today, you can place your bets on any race at any track, even from home via the TAB website.


There hasn’t been any kind of lotteries before 1987 in New Zealand. That’s the year when the first lottery system was introduced. The New Zealand Lotteries commission is responsible distributing lottery tickets and scratch cards, along with paying out the winnings to the players. There are places throughout the country where you can buy a ticket. Just as most other forms of gambling, lotteries are also in the government’s hands.


Pokies or slot machines don’t have such a long history. They had been legalised in 1991, and with the Gambling Act of 2003, they were categorised as a separate category (Category 4). Currently, according to the Problem Gambling Foundation, the biggest sources of gambling problems are non-casino pokies. At this time, there are over 16,700 non-casino pokies, and more than 2,800 casino pokies. For a country of this size, it’s really much. Nearly one billion dollars are lost to non-casino pokies every year.


The first official casino was established in Christchurch, back in 1994. Apart from being a gambling establishment, it also offered accommodation, food, and beverages to locals and tourists. These are the only locations where you can find casino table games, along with a lot of pokies. Currently, only five official casinos are open in New Zealand: there are three Skycity casinos, one in Auckland, one in Queenstown, and one in Hamilton; Dunedin and Christchurch have one-one casino too.

Online Casinos

Though the first online casinos appeared in the late 90s, New Zealand gamblers weren’t that much interested in them.

However, there were NZ websites offering the players real money gaming, sometimes using the biased software.

In 2003, the New Zealand government created two gambling-related acts: The Racing Act 2003, at the Gambling Act 2003. Regarding the online casinos, there are two important rules: the casino can’t be run from New Zealand, and advertising online casinos are forbidden. About 2-5% of New Zealand gamblers actually gamble online.

They are all welcome in the online casinos, though, and they can use NZD$ to make their deposits. Also, winnings are tax-free.


As a gambler from New Zealand, you can play your favourite games in several places in New Zealand, and there are dozens of online casinos which accept NZ players. The history of gambling in New Zealand is too long, but the gambling and lottery commissions have quite significant incomes from this. You, as an online casino player, don’t have to worry about playing, because we and some other NZ gamblers are always here to find the best online casinos.

New Zealand Gambling

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