Gambling is Not a New Phenomenon, it Existed Since Centuries

Gambling not a new phenomenon, it existed since centuries
Gambling is not a new phenomenon, it has existed for centuries

Pokies are seen as a huge plague of communities across New Zealand in today’s day and age. The fact is that gambling in several forms has been existing for thousands of years. Gambling is not a new phenomenon. With this knowledge, it is quite clear why it is that many see pokies and other forms of gambling as the woes of the nation in recent times. But, whether there is more to the problems of New Zealand than a few pokie machines?

Gambling is a very large part of New Zealand’s culture and has come a long way since citizens’ only option was to play private card games for money. The industry has seen its twist and turns, which makes it all the more fascinating. Understanding its history will give you a better appreciation of the country as a whole. Learn here how Gambling is not a New Phenomenon, it Existed Since Centuries.

History of Gambling in NZ

History of gambling in NZ
History of gambling in NZ

Well, this game was rife even as far back as Roman times. Whether it be with a die or other versions of gambling, the rich and poor alike of Roman times were all happy to enjoy a flutter or two.

With this, there were also the cheats who tried to steal money through unruly means from fellow gamblers. There were laws that came into existence to outlaw gambling but it did not good as the people enjoyed the pastime and carried on regardless. It showed that no matter what the rulers said, the people would still enjoy their favourite pastime.

Development of Gambling from Ancient to Modern Period

Early forms of gambling

Early forms of gambling can be traced back to ancient civilizations, where various activities provided entertainment and opportunities for wagering. In Mesopotamia, dice games were prevalent, with the outcome determined by the roll of the dice. Similarly, in Ancient Egypt, board games like Senet and Mehen often involved betting on the outcome.

In ancient China, significant developments in gambling took place. The invention of playing cards during the Tang Dynasty laid the foundation for various games. Games like Mahjong, with its strategic tile-matching gameplay, and Keno, a lottery-like game, originated in China during this time.

Medieval and Renaissance gambling

During the Medieval and Renaissance periods in Europe, gambling underwent significant developments. Card games evolved and gained popularity. Tarot cards, originally used for divination, became associated with gambling, introducing a new dimension to the games. Additionally, games like poker and blackjack began to gain traction, captivating players with their blend of strategy and chance.

Simultaneously, the rise of gambling establishments marked a notable shift. Casinos and gambling houses emerged as dedicated spaces for indulging in gambling activities. However, the advent of these establishments also brought forth social implications and controversies surrounding gambling.

Modern gambling

Modern gambling has experienced significant transformations, leading to the emergence of new forms and destinations that have reshaped the industry. Two notable aspects of modern gambling include lottery systems and state-sponsored gambling, as well as the development of casino resorts.

Lottery systems and state-sponsored gambling have gained widespread popularity in the modern era. Lotteries, with their enticing jackpots and easy accessibility, have attracted a large and diverse player base. The emergence of lotteries as a prominent form of gambling has been driven by the excitement and anticipation they offer to participants, as well as the potential for life-changing prizes.

Online gambling and technological advancements

The introduction of online gambling platforms has been made possible by the evolution of Internet technology. This has had a profound impact on the gambling landscape, providing a convenient and accessible platform for individuals to participate in various forms of gambling from the comfort of their own homes. Online gambling offers a wide range of options, including casino games, sports betting, and poker, catering to diverse preferences and interests.

The emergence of mobile gambling has further expanded the reach of online gambling. Mobile apps have become increasingly prevalent, enabling users to access gambling platforms on their smartphones and tablets. This has significantly increased the convenience and flexibility of gambling, allowing individuals to place bets or play games anytime and anywhere.

Gambling Origins – Gambling is not a New Phenomenon

1. Horse Racing

Horse Racing
Horse Racing

Gambling has been around for as long as New Zealand has been a country, but it wasn’t until the 1830s that it became a popular sport for adults to play. This is the time when horse racing became a nationwide sport and when a large part of the population saw a way to have fun and, if they were lucky, make some money.

Unfortunately for those who enjoyed betting on horses, the government banned bookmakers from taking wagers on the sport. This meant that starting in 1910, the only way punters could make a bet was to show up at the race track. It wasn’t until 1950 that the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) was established, allowing people to make bets on any horses at any tracks in the country.

1908 Horse Racing became legal
In 1908 Horse Racing became legal

In 1908, the Gambling Act made horse racing betting the only legal form of gambling in New Zealand. This was a time when many people started placing bets on horses without worrying about getting caught or being penalized for it.

The first Europeans brought this popular game with them to NZ and despite its illegality now people can still enjoy an exciting race day experience at any TAB outlet around the country!

The early history of gambling talks about it as a phenomenon that has always been tied to money and the desire for opportunities. It does not matter how people have played, whether they were rolling dice on the floor or betting their life savings in an online casino; there will always be those who are ready to try their luck at winning big!

Gambling seems like something you would only see in movies about Las Vegas casinos with fancy suits and showgirls. You can find these games right here if you’re looking for games like pokies machines, poker tables, roulette wheels – even blackjack among other table games – all found right inside land-based casinos across North America as well as Australia too!

2. Lotteries and Pokies

Lotteries and Pokies
Lotteries and Pokies

In July 1987, New Zealand had its first nationwide lottery system developed by the New Zealand Lotteries Commission. Since then, Kiwis have been able to purchase Lotto tickets and scratch cards through a number of establishments.

Just a few years later, pokies were legalized in the country. This brought even more excitement to gambling since the games were easy to understand and play. Since their introduction in 1991, pokies have spread all across the country and today they can be found in over 1,500 locations.

3. Casinos


Christchurch Casino is New Zealand’s first casino in 1994. It gave locals and tourists a chance to legally gamble where you can also get food, alcohol, and entertainment. This further increased the popularity of horse racing and pokies, and it also introduced the country to table games.

Current Gambling Laws

Current Gambling Laws
Current Gambling Laws

All gambling in New Zealand is governed by the Department of Internal Affairs. The majority of gambling establishments in the country are state-run, which allows the profits of those industries to go back into the community.

The Racing Act 2003 and the Gambling Act 2003 regulate all types of gambling in New Zealand. The Racing Act 2003 is packed with every law that has to do with sports betting and racing. The Gambling Act 2003 regulates every other type of gambling in the country.

Most of New Zealand’s gambling laws were there to keep machines and other games up to code, but many of the laws also instruct what citizens can and can’t do privately. It is up to each individual gambler to know these laws so they can avoid fines.

1. Land-based NZ Casinos

Land-based NZ casinos
Land-based NZ casinos

It is legal since 1990, where operators require a license to run a casino.

There are 6 casinos in New Zealand, and guests must be 20+ to enter.

Casino games are regulated, even the types and rules for all games a casino can offer are laid out by the gambling legislation. Such games include pokies, bingo, and many table games including various types of poker, roulette, and blackjack.

Apart from the 6 casinos, since 1987, pokies can also be found in hotels and dedicated clubs, slot halls (pokies clubs). However, all of these should be operated by non-profit charities, and revenue from this kind of gambling activity is used to fund various socially beneficial projects and bodies.

There are 15,300 pokies machines altogether in New Zealand including pokies halls, and casinos, about 90% of them are found outside of casinos.

New Zealand companies can not operate online casinos. However, playing in foreign online casinos is allowed, and players are not prosecuted.

2. Bingo in New Zealand

Bingo in New Zealand
Bingo in New Zealand

Land-based Bingo, also called housie in New Zealand and Australia, is legal, and quite popular. There are numerous bingo halls in the country which are nearly 50. It is difficult to know for sure, most of them don’t have any online presence whatsoever. The Gambling Act governs bingo, including that prizes may only be cash, and the amount of it, which is as per the class of the gambling activity.

Bingo can also be played as class 1 gambling without a license if prizes do not exceed the specified amount, $500, or as a class 2 charity event.

Online bingo is illegal in New Zealand. New Zealand companies can not operate online bingo platforms. However, playing on foreign online bingo platforms is legal. And in lieu of local alternatives, that’s the only option NZ players have.

3. Poker in New Zealand

Poker in New Zealand
Poker in New Zealand

This table game is legal in New Zealand and may be played in licensed casinos or as class 1 or 2 games. However, there is no significant poker club license, therefore, there are no poker clubs in New Zealand. The gambling regulation even specifies the rules, and what types of poker can be played, which luckily includes the most popular 3:  Texas Hold’em, Omaha, and Stud.

Online poker is illegal in New Zealand. No online poker licenses are issued and it is illegal to operate online poker sites of any kind within Australia. However, it is not illegal for locals to play on foreign online poker sites, many of which are available from New Zealand.

4. Sports betting in New Zealand

Sports betting in New Zealand
Sports betting in New Zealand

It is also legal in New Zealand. However, it is the monopoly of TAB NZ (of the New Zealand Racing Board). Sports betting is regulated by the Racing Industry Act 2020.

Licenses are not issued to private bookmakers.

Online sports betting is also allowed, and it is similarly a monopoly of TAB New Zealand. Additionally, locals are also free to use foreign online sports betting platforms due to the quirks of the NZ legal system. These are generally superior, and offer significantly more sports to bet on, with better odds, and have better promotions, free bets, etc. They usually have poker and casino games as well.

5. Lottery in New Zealand

Lottery in New Zealand
Lottery in New Zealand

The lottery is also legal in New Zealand. And it is the monopoly of the state-owned Lotto NZ (of the Lotteries Commission). You can also play the online lottery is also legal, and it is similarly a monopoly.

6. Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency Gambling in New Zealand

Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency Gambling in New Zealand
Bitcoin, Cryptocurrency Gambling in New Zealand

Cryptocurrencies are not accepted as currency in New Zealand, but contract and tax laws apply to cryptocurrency, which means you have to pay taxes on your Bitcoin earnings. As cryptocurrencies are not recognized as currency, therefore, land-based gambling establishments in NZ do not accept them.

Bitcoin gambling is not particularly regulated. There is no legislation regarding the use of cryptocurrencies in the context of gambling.

Challenges in NZ Gambling

  • Problem gambling – New Zealand faces a significant challenge in addressing problem gambling, which can lead to financial and social difficulties for individuals and their families.
  • Accessibility – The accessibility of gambling through online platforms and mobile apps has raised concerns about increased gambling participation, particularly among vulnerable populations.
  • Regulation and legislation – Ensuring effective regulation and legislation to protect consumers, prevent underage gambling, and address responsible gambling practices is an ongoing challenge for New Zealand authorities.
  • Advertising and promotion – The extensive advertising and promotion of gambling products and services pose challenges in terms of striking a balance between responsible advertising and protecting individuals from potential harm.
  • Funding for treatment and support services – Adequate funding for problem gambling treatment and support services is essential to address the needs of individuals struggling with gambling-related harm and to provide effective interventions and support systems.
  • Gambling-related fraud and criminal activities – Vigilance is required to prevent gambling-related fraud and criminal activities, including money laundering and illegal gambling operations, which can undermine the integrity of the gambling industry.
  • Education and prevention – Promoting public awareness and providing education about responsible gambling practices and the risks associated with gambling is crucial in mitigating harm and fostering informed decision-making.
  • Technological advancements – Keeping pace with evolving technological advancements, such as online gambling platforms and mobile apps, presents ongoing challenges in terms of regulation, harm prevention, and responsible gambling practices.


Gambling in New Zealand is not a new phenomenon, but it continues to present unique challenges in the modern era. The rise of online gambling platforms and mobile apps has brought convenience and accessibility to a broader audience, but it has also raised concerns regarding problem gambling and the need for effective regulation. Addressing issues such as problem gambling, accessibility, responsible advertising, and cultural sensitivities, among others, requires a multi-faceted approach.

By focusing on responsible gambling practices, education, regulation, and support services, New Zealand can strive to create a safer and more sustainable gambling environment for its population. With careful attention to these challenges, the gambling industry can coexist with consumer protection, responsible gambling, and the well-being of individuals and communities as priorities.

So, visit any top online or land-based casino in New Zealand and start filling your life with more fun. There are innumerable online casinos available nowadays which has the ability to lift up your mood and provide you with exciting and thrilling online gambling in NZ with the comfort of your own couch.

Bhumika Mishra

Bhumika is a vivacious young writer from Auckland, with a fresh perspective on today's digital landscape. Combining her passion for storytelling with her love for cutting-edge technology, she delivers compelling content that captivates and informs readers.