The Brief History of Gambling in New Zealand

Gambling has been a part of our community for centuries. The gambling have undergone a number of advancements and changes and the gambling we know it today is much different from the initial form being used centuries ago. Although the initial concept of gambling remains the same but a number of changes has been made in the format of gambling.

As where the New Zealand is concerned, gambling came to this place along with the first European settlers. Today, gambling is a very big and essential part of the culture of New Zealand. The history of gambling in New Zealand is quite fascinating and interesting to know. If you are a gambling enthusiast, then the history of gambling in New Zealand will give you a better way to appreciate its facilities in the country.

The Beginning of Gambling Trend in New Zealand

The trend of gambling first begins with the European settlers who came to New Zealand and it was quite common during the colonial period of New Zealand. Initially the gambling was considered illegal before 1900s and even after the Gambling Act of 1908, gambling was only considered legal in New Zealand at racings. After that, gambling continue to thrive in New Zealand and people started to practice gambling and start playing gambling games illegally. Where legal betting is considered, it was only practiced in New Zealand legally at the racetracks. This particular trend sustained until the introduction of TAB in 1951 and after that the introduction of pokies and state-sanctioned lottery, the opening of physical casinos and the trend of online casinos in New Zealand. Gambling has been around in New Zealand in a number of forms and formats. Ranging from racing, lotteries and pokies to the lotto and online gambling. Let us have a look at the concepts of different gambling forms and their respective history in New Zealand.


The concept of racing in gambling was started in 1835 in New Zealand. Today this department is controlled by NZ Racing Board and New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing in this country. Today New Zealand is equipped with 52 race courses in which more than 3000 races are held and it also includes up to 145 Group and Listed Races. The races often have a prize money of above $50 million.
After 1830s, the horse racing became a popular gambling play for the adults. It is when the horse racing became a part of their fun industry and people gamble to have fun and if they are lucky enough, they can also make money through it giving them a handsome chance to get profits.
Unfortunately, government banned the bookmakers and gamblers from betting on sports especially in the field of racing and the people are deprived of all the gambling fun and excitement. But again in 1910, the punters are allowed to place bets on races but only for those who shows up at the race track. In 1950, Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) was established after which the betting is placed on any horse in the race tracks of New Zealand.


Slowly after the acclaim of gambling in racing, first New Zealand Lotteries were introduced in 1933. The introduction of Golden Kiwi Lottery in 1961 has brought about a revolution in the lotto industry. Since then, scratch cards and Lotto tickets have been sold to the Kiwis in large numbers.


The concept of lotteries was taken over by the New Zealand Lotteries Commission which was formed in the year 1987 and introduced the concept of Lotto. Lotto became the most popular form of gambling in the history of gambling in New Zealand. Lotto provides the fun of gambling in a number of ways by offering different types of games like Big Wednesday and Powerball. The availability of the tickets were made online since 2008.


A few years after lotto, pokies were introduced in New Zealand in 1991 and were legalized soon in the country. The legalization of pokies in New Zealand brought more interest and attraction to the people as the games were much easier to master and play.
Pokies are generally handled by the charitable foundations and are operated (not in casinos) in clubs and pubs. According to a research of 2014, there are around 16,814 pokies in New Zealand which are found in more than 1500 locations in the country.


Christchurch Casino has the owner of being the first casino of New Zealand in 1994. The largest casino of New Zealand is in Auckland. The other casinos of New Zealand are found in Queenstown, Dunedin and Hamilton. The casinos gave the people a central place for legalized gambling, enjoy the activities for fun and entertainment, alcohol and food. Table games were also introduced in the casinos to the New Zealand. The biggest casino group of New Zealand is Skycity which has signed a treaty with the National-led Government in 2013 to increase the number of gaming tables and slot machines in Auckland for the exchange of a $402 million worth building in the convention center of the city. The Auckland, Queenstown and Hamilton are the casino chains of Skycity.

Online Gambling

Apart from the casinos and other gambling activities, online casinos have taken over the gambling industry today. As the use of internet began to increase, people started to look for a more convenient way to play gambling games while sitting at their home which gives them an ease of access and the freedom of playing gambling games wherever they like. That is when the need of online gambling was felt and the online gambling and online casinos were introduced in the world. Online casinos and online gambling platforms were first launched in 1998 and today its business have grown up to $20 billion worldwide.

As where the New Zealand is concerned, online gambling has never been appreciated by the government of the state. Yet, the prohibition is imposed is on remote interactive gambling in New Zealand and therefore it does not prohibit gambling conducted overseas. It is not illegal for someone in New Zealand to participate in gambling over the Internet if that website is overseas for example (see the source). Also, if the online casinos are not New Zealand based, the winnings of the gambling games are free from income taxes.

The Gambling Expenses in New Zealand:

The gambling always serves an important entertainment attraction in New Zealand and residents of New Zealand are getting more and more interested in gambling games and activities. It has been proved from the latest figures from the year 2013 which showed that New Zealanders spent approximately $2.1 on gambling, which is 0.3% rise from the previous year.
When these terms are adjusted for the population inflation, the figures show a decrease in the gambling trend of 19% from the figures of 2004. Only the expenditures on Lotto was increased in a true sense showing an increase from the figures of 2004.
These figures are approximate but not accurate as they do not include mobile based internet and offshore internet usage. The reports have shown that the gambling industry have to face a loss of $110 million in the year 2013.

[slider type="casinos" show="top" count="5" title="Are you in the mood to try out your luck right now? Play here"]