Gambling Culture in New Zealand


Gambling Culture in New Zealand has been around for a long time. It started when European people came here in the 1800s. They brought their love for betting and gambling with them. At the same time, the Māori people, who were already here, had their own games that sometimes involved betting. This mix of cultures shaped how gambling is today.

In the 1960s, the government made rules about gambling to keep it fun and safe. Over time, we got more and more pokies (slot machines) and even big casinos. Now, with the internet, we can gamble online too.

So, gambling in New Zealand is a mix of old traditions and new ways to play. It’s become a big part of our culture, and it’s important to understand its history and rules to enjoy it responsibly.

Check this out – How To Quit Pokies For Good

The legal framework governing casinos in New Zealand is primarily outlined in the Gambling Act 2003. This legislation sets the rules and regulations for various forms of gambling in the country, including casinos. The Act covers aspects such as licensing, operation, and responsible gambling measures.

Additionally, regulations related to gaming machines in casinos and admission to and exclusion from gambling areas are specified in the Gambling (Prohibited Property) Regulations 2005.

The Department of Internal Affairs is responsible for regulating and overseeing the gambling industry in New Zealand, including casino licensing and enforcement decisions. The Gambling Commission handles casino licensing applications and appeals related to licensing and enforcement decisions made by the Secretary of Internal Affairs.

It’s essential for casinos and gamblers in New Zealand to adhere to these legal provisions to ensure compliance with the country’s gambling laws.

New Zealanders have a diverse range of gambling options to choose from, reflecting the country’s vibrant gambling culture.

Here are the various forms of gambling enjoyed in New Zealand:

  1. Lotteries: Lotteries are a popular and widespread form of gambling in New Zealand. The New Zealand Lotteries Commission operates various lotto games, scratch cards, and instant Kiwi games. These lotteries often contribute to community and charitable causes.
  2. Casinos: New Zealand boasts several casinos, with popular destinations like SkyCity Auckland and Christchurch Casino. These establishments offer a wide range of games, including blackjack, roulette, poker, and slot machines, providing a comprehensive casino experience.
  3. Sports Betting: Kiwis have a strong affinity for sports, and sports betting is a natural extension of this passion. Whether it’s rugby, cricket, horse racing, or other sports events, sports betting is a significant part of New Zealand’s gambling landscape.
  4. Pokies (Slot Machines): Pokies, or slot machines, are ubiquitous in New Zealand. These gaming machines can be found in pubs, clubs, and casinos across the country. They offer various themes and game types, making them a favourite choice for many gamblers.
  5. Online Gambling: The digital age has brought a surge in online gambling. Kiwis can access a wide range of online casinos, sports betting platforms, and interactive gaming websites. Online gambling provides convenience and a vast selection of games and betting options.
  6. Housie (Bingo): Housie, known as bingo in some countries, is a social and enjoyable form of gambling often played in community centres and clubs. It combines entertainment with the chance to win prizes.

Learn more – What are Mystery Shoppers that are used in New Zealand Casinos for Punters?

New Zealand offers a variety of gambling options, both legal and illegal. Legal forms of gambling include casino gambling, lotteries, sports betting, and gaming machines, commonly known as pokies.

Casinos are regulated and can be found in major cities. Lotteries, such as Lotto and scratch cards, are popular nationwide. Kiwis also enjoy betting on sports, with rugby and horse racing being notable favourites.

Gaming machines, although regulated, are widely available in bars and clubs.

On the other hand, illegal gambling, such as unauthorized gambling dens or online gambling from unlicensed operators, poses risks to individuals and lacks consumer protection. The New Zealand government maintains strict regulations to ensure the safety and fairness of legal gambling activities while actively combatting illegal operations to safeguard its citizens.

But we need to be careful. New Zealand has rules to make sure gambling is safe and doesn’t hurt us. For example, kids who are under 18 can’t gamble because it’s not good for them. And if someone gambles too much and it’s a problem, they might not be allowed to gamble anymore to keep them safe.

Maori Influence

The influence of Maori culture on gambling in New Zealand is significant and reflects the rich heritage of the indigenous Maori people. Traditional Maori games, often rooted in their deep cultural and spiritual traditions, have left a lasting imprint on contemporary gambling activities in the country.

One notable aspect of Maori influence is the incorporation of traditional games into modern gambling establishments. Games like “Tākaro,” which involve skill and strategy, have found their way into casinos, adding a unique and culturally rich dimension to the gaming experience.

These traditional games serve as a bridge between the past and the present, allowing both Maori and non-Maori gamblers to connect with the heritage of New Zealand.

In addition, Maori art and symbols are often used in the design of gambling machines and casino decorations. This makes the places where people gamble look special and honours the Maori culture.

You may also like – Why Endorphina Discontinued Its ‘Maori’ Online Pokies Game

In short, the Maori culture has left a mark on gambling in New Zealand. Their traditional games and symbols are now part of the fun and excitement of modern gambling, and they help celebrate the Maori culture in the country.

Gaming Venues Rooted in Tradition

New Zealand’s gaming landscape includes venues that honour traditional forms of entertainment. These establishments pay homage to the country’s heritage while offering modern gaming experiences. Here are a few examples:

  1. Horse Racing Tracks: New Zealand has a rich horse racing tradition, and venues like Ellerslie Racecourse in Auckland and Riccarton Park in Christchurch continue to host horse racing events. They combine the thrill of betting with a sense of tradition, attracting both racing enthusiasts and the wider community.
  2. RSA Clubs: The Returned and Services’ Associations (RSA) clubs have a long history in New Zealand. They serve as hubs for veterans and their communities, offering gaming options like pokies while maintaining their traditional role of supporting returned servicemen and women.
  3. Marae Gatherings: Marae, traditional Māori meeting grounds, occasionally host gambling activities like Housie (bingo). These gatherings not only provide entertainment but also foster a sense of community and cultural connection.
  4. Community Halls: Some rural areas maintain community halls where locals come together for traditional games like card tournaments and raffles. These events serve as fundraisers for community projects.

These gaming venues embrace tradition and cultural significance while adapting to the changing preferences of their patrons. They continue to play a unique role in New Zealand’s diverse gaming culture.

Gaming Venues in New Zealand

New Zealand boasts several prominent gaming venues and casinos that contribute to both entertainment and local communities. The notable venues include:

  1. SkyCity Auckland: Located in Auckland’s city centre, SkyCity Auckland is one of New Zealand’s largest casinos. It offers a wide range of gaming options, fine dining, entertainment, and a luxurious hotel. The casino contributes significantly to Auckland’s tourism and economy.
  2. Christchurch Casino: Christchurch Casino was the first casino to open in New Zealand in 1994. Situated in the heart of Christchurch, it provides various gaming opportunities, dining experiences, and live entertainment, contributing to the city’s vibrant culture.
  3. Dunedin Casino: Housed in a historic building in Dunedin, this casino offers a unique gaming experience. It features a variety of table games, slots, and a restaurant, enriching the local cultural landscape.
  4. Other Venues: New Zealand has numerous gaming venues with gaming machines (pokies) distributed across bars and clubs, providing accessible entertainment options for Kiwis.

Online Gambling in New Zealand

Online gambling has seen substantial growth in New Zealand, influenced by technological advancements and changing consumer preferences. The regulatory landscape is evolving to address this trend:

  1. Regulation: The Gambling Act 2003 governs online gambling in New Zealand. While online casinos based in the country are prohibited, Kiwis can legally gamble on offshore websites. The government is considering reforms to enhance player protections and address offshore operators.
  2. Popular Websites: Kiwis have access to various international online gambling platforms, offering a wide array of casino games, sports betting, and poker. Some popular websites include Jackpot City, Spin Casino, and Casumo Casino.
  3. Trends: Mobile gambling is on the rise, with players enjoying the convenience of betting on smartphones and tablets. Live dealer games, where players interact with real dealers via live streams, have gained popularity.

Online gambling’s growth poses challenges and opportunities, prompting ongoing discussions about responsible gambling and regulation to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for New Zealanders.

Read: Best 8 Venues To Play Pokies in Dunedin


Q: What are some of the cultural factors that influence gambling participation in New Zealand?

Ans – There are a number of cultural factors that influence gambling participation in New Zealand, including:
Ethnicity: Māori and Pacific people are more likely to gamble than other New Zealanders.
Socioeconomic status: People from lower socioeconomic backgrounds are more likely to gamble than people from higher socioeconomic backgrounds.
Age: Young people are more likely to gamble than older people.

Q: What role does Māori culture play in Gambling Culture in New Zealand?

Ans – Māori culture has a significant influence on gambling in New Zealand, with traditional games like Housie being popular in Māori communities. Some gaming venues also incorporate Māori themes and traditions.

Q: What is the legal gambling age in New Zealand?

Ans – The legal gambling age in New Zealand is 18 years old for most forms of gambling, including casinos, sports betting, and pokies. However, individuals must be 20 years old to enter a casino’s gaming area.

Q: What are the laws and regulations surrounding gambling in New Zealand?

Gambling in New Zealand is regulated by the Gambling Commission. The Gambling Commission is responsible for issuing gambling licenses, setting gambling rules and regulations, and preventing gambling-related harm.

Q: What resources and support services are available to problem gamblers and their families in New Zealand?

Ans – There are a number of resources and support services available to problem gamblers and their families in New Zealand. These resources and support services include:
The Gambling Helpline: 0800 654 655
The Gambling Help website:
Gambling addiction counselling services
Gambling support groups

Q: What is the most popular form of gambling in New Zealand?

Ans – The most popular form of gambling in New Zealand is pokie machines. Pokies are also known as slot machines, and they are available in casinos, pubs, and clubs throughout the country.

Q: How much money do New Zealanders spend on gambling each year?

Ans – New Zealanders spend billions of dollars on gambling each year. In 2021, New Zealanders spent over $2.1 billion on pokie machines alone.


Gambling Culture in New Zealand offers many choices, from traditional Māori games to modern options. People enjoy it for fun and the chance to win prizes. But New Zealand also cares about responsible gambling and helps those who have problems. Laws like the Gambling Act 2003 keep gambling fair and safe.

Gambling doesn’t just affect individuals; it impacts families and communities. New Zealand is finding ways to balance a thriving gambling industry with protecting people. The country’s diverse culture, unique traditions, and focus on responsible gaming make its gambling culture special. It’s about enjoying the excitement while making sure everyone stays safe and supported.

Mamta Sharma

Mamta is a spirited writer hailing from Wellington, bringing a youthful zest to the world of digital content. Merging her love for narrative with an eye for detail, Ella crafts stories that resonate and engage the modern reader.