Local Gambling Customs and Traditions Across Different NZ Regions

gambling customs and traditions in nz
Betting Practices and Heritage in NZ

Gambling customs and traditions are special ways people in New Zealand play games that involve chance or skill. These traditions can be old, like traditional Māori games, or newer, like playing pokies in bars. They are not just for fun but also a part of what makes New Zealand’s culture unique.

Gambling Culture

Gambling Culture
Gambling Culture

Gambling customs, deeply rooted in human history and found across diverse cultures and regions (Custer & Milt, 1985), are practices that exhibit varying levels of acceptance in different societies. In the contemporary world, many countries openly and extensively engage in these customs, some even considering them a cherished part of their national heritage (Raylu & Oei, 2002).

This international prevalence of gambling customs, observed in over 90 countries with legalized gambling (Lesieur & Rosenthal, 1991), presents a shared cultural phenomenon and, at times, a collective challenge that transcends national borders (Lamberton & Oei, 1997).

Traditional gambling customs over the activities, from traditional Māori games to modern games like lotteries and online gambling. But why are these traditions important to New Zealand’s culture? There are several important reasons:

  1. Cultural Heritage: These traditions are a way to remember and celebrate the past. For example, traditional Māori games have been passed down for a long time and help keep Māori culture alive.
  2. Bringing People Together: Many traditions allow people to come together and have fun.
  3. Money Matters: Gambling is also a big business in New Zealand.
  4. Different Strokes: New Zealand has many different regions, each with its way of doing things, including gambling.
  5. Rules and Regulations: Some laws govern gambling in New Zealand.

In this post, we’ll look at how people in different regions play these games, where these traditions come from, why they matter culturally, and how gambling is changing in New Zealand.

Historical Gambling Practices in Different NZ Regions

Gambling Customs and Traditions in Different NZ Regions
Gambling Traditions in NZ

Different areas of New Zealand have their special ways of gambling. Auckland has fancy casinos, while Northland likes traditional Māori games. This shows how gambling customs change from place to place in New Zealand.

1. Gambling Customs in Auckland

Gambling Customs in Auckland
Gambling Customs in Auckland

For many years, gambling has been a popular hobby in Auckland, New Zealand. It allows people to socialise, have fun, and possibly earn money. Depending on the form of gambling and the culture of the persons engaged, Auckland has a wide range of gambling practices and traditions.

Here are some of the most common gambling rituals and habits in Auckland:

  • Pokies: Pokies (slot machines) are the most popular form of gambling in New Zealand, and Auckland is no exception. Pokies are often played in groups, and it is common to see people sharing wins and losses. It is also common for Aucklanders to play pokies while drinking alcohol.
  • Table games: Table games such as blackjack, roulette, and baccarat are also popular in Auckland. Table game players are often more serious gamblers than poker players, and they may use different strategies to try to win.
  • Horse racing: Horse racing is a major sport in New Zealand, and there are several racecourses in Auckland where people can bet on races. Aucklanders who bet on horse racing often follow the sport closely and have a favourite horse or jockey. It is also common for Aucklanders to bet on horse races with their friends and family.
  • Sports betting: Sports betting is also popular betting in Auckland, especially in rugby, cricket, and football. Aucklanders who bet on sports often have a good understanding of the sport they are betting on. They may also follow the advice of experts when making their bets.

2. Customs in Wellington

Customs in Wellington
Customs in Wellington

Wellington, as the capital city of New Zealand, adheres to the national regulations and customs related to gambling. Gambling in Wellington, as in the rest of New Zealand, is regulated by the Department of Internal Affairs.

Here are some key aspects of gambling customs and traditions in Wellington:

  • Traditional Forms: While modern gambling establishments like casinos are prevalent, traditional forms of gambling, such as local card games and house (bingo-like games), continue to be enjoyed in Wellington and across New Zealand.
  • Pokies (Slot Machines): Pokies, or slot machines, are popular in the city and can be found in various bars and gaming establishments.
  • Lotteries: Lotteries are another common form of gambling in Wellington, offering people a chance to try their luck and win prizes.
  • Wellington Cup Carnival: The Wellington Cup Carnival is a distinctive cultural tradition in the city. It combines horse racing with socializing and reflects the city’s love for gambling and social gatherings. Participants can bet on their favourite horses while soaking in the event’s lively atmosphere, creating a memorable experience that showcases Wellington’s rich cultural heritage.
  • Betting & Entertainment: This annual event is a significant part of the city’s cultural calendar. During the Wellington Cup Carnival, residents and visitors come together to enjoy horse racing, socialize and engage in various forms of entertainment.

Learn More – Best Venues to Play Pokies in Wellington, NZ.

3. Gambling Customs in Christchurch

 Gambling Customs in Christchurch
Gambling Customs in Christchurch

Several gambling events are held in Christchurch, New Zealand, all year. Some of the most popular events include:

  • Riccarton Park Racecourse: Riccarton Park Racecourse is one of the most popular racecourses in New Zealand. It hosts several major yearly races, including the Christchurch and New Zealand Trotting Cup.
  • Addington Raceway: Addington Raceway is another popular racecourse in Christchurch. It hosts several harness racing races throughout the year.
  • Canterbury Casino: Canterbury Casino is the largest casino in the South Island of New Zealand, and it offers a variety of gambling games, including pokies, table games, and sports betting.
  • New Zealand Cup and Show: The New Zealand Cup and Show is an annual major agricultural and racing event in Christchurch. It includes several horse races and other agricultural events.
  • Christchurch Casino: Christchurch Casino is a prominent venue offering various table games such as blackjack, baccarat, roulette, and poker. It’s a hub for those who enjoy traditional casino games and offers a thrilling experience for gamblers in the city.
  • Community Gaming: Christchurch hosts various community gaming events where locals compete in gambling competitions. These events can range from card games to sports betting, contributing to the city’s vibrant gambling culture.

In addition to these major events, many smaller gambling events are held in Christchurch all year. These events may be held at local bars, clubs, or other venues.

4. Gambling Customs in Queenstown

Gambling Customs in Queenstown
Gambling Customs in Queenstown

Located on the picturesque shores of Lake Wakatipu and surrounded by the stunning Remarkables Range, Queenstown stands as the Southern Hemisphere’s foremost alpine and lakeside resort destination throughout all four seasons.

For those inclined toward gambling, Queenstown provides a range of options through its casinos, gaming establishments, and racing venues, offering a diverse selection of games to cater to your betting preferences. Whether you’re interested in trying your luck with casino games or placing bets on horse or dog races, Queenstown offers opportunities to test your fortune.

  1. Historical Betting: In the 19th century, gambling was popular in Queenstown and New Zealand. People placed bets on various activities, including cards, athletic competitions, and, most notably, horse racing.
  2. Māori Traditions: The Māori, New Zealand’s indigenous people, had their traditional gambling activities, which played a role in communal harmony. These activities included gambling on cards and various types of games.
  3. Modern Casinos: Today, Queenstown offers modern casino gaming experiences. Casinos like SkyCity Queenstown provide various games, including roulette, blackjack, poker, and slot machines. These casinos are known for their entertainment options, making them popular destinations for visitors seeking a night of gaming and fun.
  4. Diverse Betting Options: Besides traditional casino games, Queenstown offers opportunities to bet on horse and dog races, catering to various gambling preferences. These events provide fun and social interaction for betting in the region.

5. Gambling Customs in Otago

Gambling Customs in Otago
Gambling Customs in Otago

The Otago region in New Zealand has a rich history of gambling traditions influenced by the broader New Zealand gambling culture. Here are some key aspects of gambling traditions in Otago:

  1. Horse Racing: Horse racing is a prominent gambling tradition in Otago, as it is in many parts of New Zealand. People in Otago have historically enjoyed placing bets on horse races, which often involve gambling and the fun of the race.
  2. Organized Sports Betting: Besides horse racing, organized sports betting has also been part of Otago’s gambling tradition. Sports such as cricket, boxing, and rowing have attracted support and betting activities in the region, contributing to the local gambling culture.
  3. Modern Gambling Options: While traditional forms of gambling like horse racing and sports betting have historical significance in Otago, the region also offers modern gambling options. Casinos and venues, including electronic gaming machines and table games, provide contemporary gambling experiences for locals and visitors.
  4. Contemporary Gambling Discussions: It’s worth noting that contemporary discussions around gambling in Otago and New Zealand often involve regulatory considerations, social impacts, and responsible gambling practices, reflecting the evolving nature of the industry.

In summary, Otago’s gambling traditions encompass historical practices such as horse racing and sports betting alongside modern casino and gaming options.

Variations of Gambling in Different NZ Regions

Variations of Gambling in Different NZ Regions
Variations of Gambling in Different NZ Regions

Gambling varies in different regions of New Zealand. These variations are influenced by factors such as each region’s culture, history, and demographics.

Here are some examples:

North Island: Pokies (slot machines) are the most popular form of gambling in the North Island, followed by table games such as blackjack and roulette. Horse racing is also popular on the North Island, but not to the same extent as on the South Island.

South Island: Horse racing is the most popular form of gambling on the South Island, followed by pokies and tabletop games. Harness racing is also popular on the South Island, especially in Canterbury and Otago.

Māori: Māori people have several traditional gambling games, such as Poi Taua, played with two sticks and a string. Māori people also enjoy gambling on modern games such as pokies, table games, and horse racing.

Pacific Island: Pacific Island people also have several traditional gambling games, such as Pasifika dice and Tongan roulette. Pacific Island people also enjoy gambling on modern games such as pokies, table games, and horse racing.

Interesting Read: Pokies In Wellington.


When we look at the different ways people gamble in New Zealand regions, we see that they reflect each place’s unique culture and history. Whether playing pokies in Auckland or enjoying horse racing in Canterbury, these gambling customs are like stories that tell us about the people who live there.

Understanding and respecting these traditions helps us appreciate New Zealand’s diversity and shows how games connect with society. Whether for fun, bonding with others, or keeping traditions alive, gambling in New Zealand regions is a fascinating part of the local culture.

It’s like taking a journey through the heart of each region, where chance, culture, and tradition come together.


How does culture affect gambling?

Culture has a significant impact on gambling practices and attitudes.

Different cultures have different perspectives on gambling, which influence the types of games played, the frequency with which they are played, and whether gambling is considered a social pastime or an unsafe behaviour.

Cultural norms, beliefs, and traditions can also encourage or discourage gambling.

What are the cultural factors of gambling?

Cultural factors encompass various elements that influence gambling. These include:

Beliefs: Cultural beliefs regarding luck, fate, and chance can shape gambling choices, including superstitions guiding gameplay.
Traditions: Cultural traditions and rituals often incorporate gambling, such as betting during festivals or celebrations, making it an integral part of cultural practices.
Social Acceptance: The degree of social acceptance of gambling varies across cultures. Some societies view it as a central aspect of social gatherings, while others may consider it socially unacceptable.
Religious Views: Religious beliefs strongly impact attitudes towards gambling. While some religions strictly forbid gambling, others permit specific forms of it, reflecting diverse perspectives on this activity.

What is the cultural perspective of gambling?

The cultural perspective of gambling means examining gambling from the viewpoint of a particular culture’s beliefs and customs.

Different cultures have varying opinions about gambling.
Some cultures consider it just a fun activity, like playing a game.
Others see it as a big problem linked to addiction and social troubles.
This perspective also decides if gambling is part of cultural events and traditions.

Is gambling a cultural thing?

Indeed, gambling is a part of some cultures. It’s connected to how they do things, their beliefs, and their special ways. But remember, not all cultures see it the same way. For some, it’s really important, but for others, not so much. So, it’s all about what people in that culture think and do.

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.