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Online Casino Law and Regulation in New Zealand

Kiwis understandably have questions about how online gambling is treated under current NZ law. Are online casinos legal? Are taxes owed on winnings from online pokies? These questions can be confusing. And sometimes New Zealand pokies fans are put off venturing online if they're worried about getting into trouble.

This page is designed to clear up any questions you might have about online casino law in New Zealand. Of course, laws can change and we'll keep you up to date with any changes that take place over the coming months.

Are Online Casinos Legal in New Zealand?

As in Australia, New Zealand has rigorous legislation in place when it comes to pokie machines. Under the Gambling Act 2003, a proper framework for gambling in NZ was put into place for the first time. Restrictions were put in place for land-based casinos and racetracks. Pubs, hotels and casinos had to apply for special licenses in order to stock poker machines on their premises. A key part of the 2003 law meant a halt to building any new casinos. So far, the rise of pokies as seen in Australia has not been repeated in New Zealand.

The legislation was updated with the Gambling Amendment Act 2015. The advertising of overseas gambling sites became prohibited, and stronger measures were put in place to help problem gamblers.

However, the key point here is that it is not illegal for individuals to play on online gambling sites. Only the operators are impacted by this law. Players are not engaging in criminal activity by playing online pokies or any other casino game. The law clearly states that “gambling by a person at a distance by interaction through a communication device" is prohibited, but that only refers to NZ-based Internet sites. That means that the many overseas operators who allow their games to be played by New Zealand are violating laws here, but the players who join up with those same sites are not.

Gambling in New Zealand is overseen by the Gambling Commission, an independent body set up under the 2003 Act. Its job is to preside over land-based casino applications and enforce offences relating to pokies and gambling machines.

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Do I Owe Taxes on my Online Gambling Winnings?

Like Australia and the United Kingdom, New Zealand's gambling laws stipulate no tax on games. Land-based operators themselves have to pay a levy on machines, but gamblers themselves are exempt.

Under current New Zealand tax rules, gambling winnings are not subject to income tax deductions. In some special circumstances where a gambler may rely on pokies for his total income, some tax may be due. However, for the majority of recreational pokie machine players gambling at home or on their smartphone, there is no tax to be paid.

Are Changes Coming to New Zealand Online Gambling Regulations?

As in Australia, a lot of attention has been paid to gambling law changes in relation to horse racing. New Zealand First have proposed increases to prizepools in many of the larger horse races. The problem of NZ gamblers' money going to overseas online casinos and betting sites is still an issue for lawmakers to work out. Some parties see the loss of "tax money" as a problem to the gambling industry back home.

However, as in Australia, most parties in New Zealand are reluctant to commit to cutting back on pokie machines. The proceeds of pokies goes towards the NZ racing industry. In respect to online casino games, the NZ government is yet to issue outright bans to overseas casinos offering games for real money. Even Australia, who has introduced similar rules outlawing pokies at offshore betting sites, is rethinking the ban.

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