With the passing of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill by New Zealand’s parliament in 2019, which made all forms of online gambling offered by local businesses banned, we felt that it was time to come back and look at the effect it has had and what options are available for New Zealander’s to bet online.
We know that New Zealand has a general prohibition on the provision of online gambling. This is highlighted in Section 9(2) of the Gambling Act of 2003; it states that “remote interactive gambling” (online gambling) is illegal unless it is authorised under the Act. The only providers authorised to offer online gambling products are the Lotteries Commission (Lotto NZ) and The New Zealand Racing Board (TAB).
This policy expressly excludes offshore operators as it states “The prohibition is on remote interactive gambling in New Zealand and therefore does not prohibit gambling conducted overseas. For example, it is not illegal for someone in New Zealand to participate in gambling over the Internet if that website is based overseas.”
This has created a really difficult situation for Kiwis that do want to gamble online as they are forced to play at offshore casinos that vary greatly in their ethics regarding player protection. We have also seen a major increase in online gambling over this period. Which is in complete contradiction to the objective of the act itself.
How to bet online in New Zealand
We have previously covered how to play at online casinos in New Zealand and will therefore focus on the sports betting aspect here. There are two options for New Zealanders when it comes to betting on sports online.
- Play at tab.co.nz which is strictly regulated and operated from within New Zealand.
- Play at an offshore Sportsbook.
The tab is well governed and offers strong player protection mechanisms to ensure that problem gamblers are protected and that AML rules are adhered to. The downside is that it operates as a monopoly within New Zealand and offers players worse odds and very few bonuses.
Offshore Sportsbooks and Casinos operate in a much more competitive environment and therefore offer players better odds and a continuous stream of bonuses and promotions. The downside is that there is very little recourse for players that play at an unethical establishment. This can be minimised by doing research online but the risk is still very real.
Should you bet online?
The answer to this question is not a simple yes or no. Your risk appetite, ability to keep your betting under control and need for accessibility are going to be the determining factors.
If you are someone that does not suffer from any gambling addiction and has a reasonably high tolerance for risk, then online sports betting at an offshore operator is a good option for you. If you are less risk tolerant then playing at Tab is a good option but if you are someone with an addictive personality then we would recommend avoiding any form of gambling.
If you do feel like you could suffer from a gambling problem, please visit PGF.nz to get the support you need to overcome it.
The regulatory framework for sports betting in New Zealand
The Gambling (Gaming Levies and Other Matters) Amendment Bill (the Bill) has received its third reading at Parliament. If enacted, the Bill would amend the Gambling Act 2003 (the Act) to provide for the regulatory framework for sports betting in New Zealand. It is important for stakeholders to understand the implications of the Bill and how it could affect them.
Why would New Zealand restrict sports betting?
At its essence, the New Zealand government sees the new law as protecting consumers from overseas competitors that undercut or enter the market with undue advantages. However, there is also another view: that the government is actually protecting the incumbent operators (Betfair, William Hill, Unibet, etc.) who have extensive web presence in New Zealand and the U.S., but whose websites are restricted by U.S. law.
Over the past 5 years, there have been interesting lawsuits all over the world between offshore sportsbooks and New Zealand law. Virtually every country has regulations when it comes to overseas sports betting. The U.K. is perhaps the most pervasive censor among the major European Union countries. There are additional bans in Australia, South Korea, Japan, and Taiwan.
Would there be a games section in the bill?
In order for the New Zealand government to pass any new laws, the matter has to be presented to the cabinet, which then drafts the legislation and sends it to Parliament for approval. This means that, ultimately, it is up to the government to decide if and how much regulation is needed.
This may seem like a negative outlook on online sports betting but it is not. We ourselves are big supporters of the opening up of online betting in New Zealand but until regulations come in that protect customers, from both the inherent risks that come with gambling and the monopoly that currently exists with New Zealand, we advice Kiwi’s to be cautious of where they gamble online.