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New Zealand Betting Laws

Like many countries around the world, New Zealand has a complicated history of gambling and sports betting. In many ways, sports betting is an intrinsic part of the culture, and falls neatly in line Kiwi’s love of pokies machines, horse racing betting and the lotto. But bookmaking was officially declared illegal in 1920, and until 1961, all bets had to be placed at the track. Since 1961 and the introduction of TAB, sports betting has become legal at specific land-based TAB outlets.

For anyone interested in online sports betting, the first question you should ask is, if it is in fact legal to bet online? Let’s start with the facts. In New Zealand, all forms of gambling, be it sports betting, lotteries or casino gaming are regulated by the Department of Internal Affairs. Their job is to enforce the Gambling Act of 2003.

The Gambling Act of 2003

The Gambling Act is a piece of Legislature put in place to allow the provision of certain gambling services including, but not limited to, non-profit casinos and government lotteries. The main objectives of the Gambling Act are to control the growth of the gambling industry, ensure the games are fair, authorise some forms of gambling while prohibiting others, ensure that the gambling proceeds are fed back into the community and to minimise the harm done by gambling.

Where this affects online and mobile sports betting in New Zealand is the fact that the Gambling Act explicitly prohibits remote interactive gambling. This includes online casino gambling, sports betting and other online gambling activities such as online poker. This legislation means that companies in New Zealand cannot offer remote gambling or advertise gambling services within the borders of the country. This is why you will never find a local New Zealand online betting site that is licenced in New Zealand. The Gambling Act also states that citizens are prohibited from participating in unauthorised gambling activities.

Online Operators Outside of New Zealand

By all accounts this sound like online sports betting is illegal in New Zealand. The truth is that the Gambling Act only applies to exchanges between New Zealand punters and companies based within the borders of New Zealand itself. What is interesting is that New Zealanders are legally free to gamble at overseas facilities both offline and online. If you were participating in local gambling activities at an unlicensed establishment in New Zealand, this would be illegal. Similarly, if you gamble online at a site hosted locally, this too is illegal. 

Is Online Sports Betting Legal?

The big question here is whether or not it is legal to bet online in New Zealand. The answer is yes; it is legal when the bets are placed with a licenced bookmaker located overseas. The best sports betting brands from the UK and Europe offer legal sports betting to all punters of legal age in New Zealand. Being outside of the country, means that operators do not have to obtain an additional licence in order to accept players in New Zealand.

Your Legal Rights

What it all comes down to is that if you are looking for the best football odds, make sure you are checking out overseas sites. When looking for a site to sign up with, check the terms and conditions to ensure that as a New Zealander, you are legally in the clear. Some betting sites will not openly display their list of prohibited countries but will never pay out on any bets.

To avoid the risk of losing out on your bets, make sure the betting site is fully licenced and 100% legal. Since overseas online sports betting is exempt from the New Zealand Gambling Act, New Zealanders who place bets for overseas bookmakers have no legal recourse or protection should things go wrong.

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