Betting on gaming machines, taking a round on an instant game, or engaging in casino gambling is legal in New Zealand. However, such must be licensed or authorized under the Gambling Act 2003. The Act is the primary New Zealand legislation governing all forms of gambling in the country, both remote and physical.
Regulations and amendments have been made under the Gambling Act 2003 to ensure the objectives of the Act are met. They cover problem gambling levy, fees, harm prevention and minimization, conditions for a licensed promoter, etc. The regulations and related information are available on the New Zealand legislation website.
This brief piece will review the Gambling Act 2003 and the agencies regulating the country’s casino gambling, racing, and lotteries. We’ll also discuss the country’s regulations governing gaming, lotteries, and racing.
The Law governing gambling in New Zealand
All gaming activities in New Zealand are regulated. Laws or legislation have been made to cover different aspects of betting, from racing to lotteries and casino gaming. These laws include the following:
- The Racing Act: This 2020 legislation covers the New Zealand racing industry. That included betting on greyhound races, galloping races, and harness races. The Racing Act also makes provision for TAB NZ.
- The Gambling Act 2003: This legislation covers all forms of gambling conducted within the country. It contains prohibitions and authorisations, outlines gambling classes, and lists requirements for licensing operators and gambling venues (including casinos).
These laws govern the administration of any gambling activity, the venue at which it is administered, and the players. By extension, the Gambling Act 2003 aims at the following:
- Control gambling growth
- Prevent and minimize all forms of gambling harm, including problem gambling.
- Authorise and prohibit gambling
- Ensure that the money from gambling benefits the community
- Ensure the fairness of all gambling equipment, like electronic gaming machines
- Promote responsible gambling
Bookmaking and remote interactive gambling are prohibited under the Gambling Act 2003. Also, operators are not allowed to increase the number of gaming machines or player space in their venue. The New Zealand Gambling Commission regulates the latter.
This Gambling Act authorizes private gambling and sales promotion schemes. Several regulations have been added to the Act, including the 2015, 2016, 2019, and 2023 regulations. These regulations amend the existing Act and seek to minimize the harm caused by gambling.
The Gambling Act 2003 integrates the Casino Control Act 1990 and the Lotteries Act 1977. It ensures that the integrity and fairness of games limit opportunities for fraud and other vices. At its helm is the Department of Internal Affairs.
Classes of Gaming
The Gambling Act divides gambling into four classes with different requirements and compliance of the games to the game rules. They include the following:
- Class 1: In this class, all turnover minus the necessary costs must be applied to reward the winners or distributed for authorized purposes. That holds if a society conducts it. Most importantly, the reward should be at most $500 for a single session.
- Class 2: In this class, the net proceeds must be distributed for authorized purposes. The reward for the winner should be at most $5,000. Also, the society’s name must be published at the point of sale, and there must be game rules.
- Class 3: In this class, the net proceeds must be distributed for authorized purposes, and the total value of prize payment exceeds $5,000. Also, there must be game rules for gambling, and no gaming machines must be used. Only a class 3 license-holding society can conduct gaming in this class.
- Class 4: In this class, the net proceeds must be distributed for authorized purposes, and game rules must apply. It also covers gaming machines.
A society can apply for a Class 3 or 4 license through its authorized representative. Information on the reward must be clearly stated in the license application. Most importantly, the Gambling Commission is in charge of renewing licenses.
The Class 4 Venue Licence
Only operators in class 4 are allowed to use gaming machines. That includes slot machines, electronic table games, and other games that require machines. Gaming with machines takes place at a venue, hence the need for a venue license.
Applicants must state how they intend to minimize problem gambling at the venue. Also, the applicant must have a class 4 license.
Under the Act, operators and a class 4 venue license must not increase the opportunities at the venue. That includes creating space for more players and adding more gaming machines.
Gambling venues under the act include casinos, a TAB, and a gaming machine venue in a community. Clubs and pubs with gaming machines are also recognized under class 4.
Societies like clubs can merge. However, they must obtain a license to operate the new capacity of gaming machines. Territorial authority consent is also required.
Gambling Regulations NZ under the Gambling Act 2003
The Gambling Law does more than regulate the activities of operators. It minimizes gambling harm and prevents crime against the country or player. For the most part, the law protects players while holding casino operators accountable.
While we have community involvement, the law has several regulations. These regulations on gambling prevent and amend certain aspects of the law, and they are made under the following:
- The Executive Council’s advice and consent
- The recommendation and consideration of the Associate Minister of Health and the Minister of Internal Affairs
Regulations on harm prevention and minimization
This regulation mandates Class 4 venues to train managers on problem gambling awareness. That includes clubs, pubs, and venues with a gaming machine. Also, personnel should be able to recognize signs of problem gambling in any player at their venues.
There are problem gambling services, like the Responsible Gambling Council. Players exhibiting problem gambling disorders should be redirected to them. Such players will receive advice on how to deal with the condition.
Casinos, clubs, pubs, and other class 4 venues must have an integrated problem gambling strategy. An example is taking sweeps off the gaming floor.
Regulations on problem gambling levy rates
This regulation outlines the levy rates for problem gambling. It includes the levy rates for the casino and gaming machine operators, the New Zealand Lotteries Commission, and the New Zealand Racing Board. The regulation also ensures the timely payment of the money.
Regulations on fees
This regulation covers fees when casino venues (clubs, casinos, pubs, etc.) add or remove gaming machines. Fees are attached for adding a gaming machine. Similarly, such fees should be refunded if the gaming machine is pulled.
The Agencies regulating gambling in New Zealand
Several agencies regulate gambling in the country in varying capacities. Together, they regulate bingo (housie), pokies, poker, lotteries, instant game titles, prize competition games, and casino gambling. The agencies include the following:
The Department of Internal Affairs
This is the primary regulatory agency for gambling in the country. The Department of Internal Affairs provides license covers for operators and enforces the law under the Gambling Act. Furthermore, it monitors the gambling industry to ensure the law is obeyed and operations minimize gambling harm.
The Secretary heads the Department of Internal Affairs. This office provides advice and consent on policies to enforce a safe gambling atmosphere. Its regulations on problem gambling authorize the Secretary to implement legislation to reduce gambling harm.
In summary, the Department of Internal Affairs minimizes problem gambling, advises the Gambling Commission, and maximizes community benefit.
The Gambling Commission NZ
This body works independently, although the Department of Internal Affairs oversees gambling. It does the following:
- Receives appeals and complaints from plaintiffs against decisions by the Department of Internal Affairs regarding class 4 gambling
- Reviews licensing applications
- License casinos and authorize charges
The Gambling Commission’s regulations on gambling ensure players always have fair services. In addition, the body has the powers of a Commission of Inquiry.
The Ministry of Health
This ministry is primarily responsible for developing an integrated problem-gambling strategy. It covers the research, funding, and coordination of problem gambling services. In addition, it provides advice to the government and the Department of Internal Affairs on harm-preventing regulations.
Local and unitary councils
These territorial authorities have a vital role in providing community input into regulations regarding gambling in their area. They apply their policies when reviewing documents for class 4 venue license applications. Also, they can develop policies to limit or manage the impact of gambling in their area.
Online gaming in New Zealand
The Gambling Commission prohibits all remote interactive services for gambling. That includes instant games, prize competition games, pokies, bingo, etc. Online sales for lotteries are not banned.
You can play online games at offshore NZ casinos. However, the rules for underage gambling still apply. A player must be 18 years old to participate in any gambling activity.
All gambling activities in New Zealand are carried out at physical locations. Operators and hosts must abide by several regulations from the Department of Internal Affairs and the Gambling Commission. These include regulations for using gaming machines or providing prizes that exceed $5,000.
The Department of Internal Affairs can prosecute faulting operators or hosts. However, affected operators can appeal to the Gambling Commission.
Casino and lottery players are protected under the Gambling Act. While playing any game, ensure you play responsibly. Complete adherence to the provision of the law towards gaming gives you the government’s full backing.