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Betting in New Zealand

Published on: 01/02/2016

Europeans first arrived in New Zealand in 1642 after which, the country became home to many missionaries, merchants and whalers who brought their gambling habits with them. The indigenous Maori people fully resisted any attempts to force European ways upon them and for 200 hundred years, the different cultures continued their separate existences. In 1840, the territory was officially claimed as a British territory.

In 1967, the first ever New Zealand-born Governor-General took office, and later in 1986, the final constitutional tie to Britain was cut. New Zealand now stand as a fully independent country.

Gambling started to emerge on a commercial scale in the 1990s and soon grew into a booming business. The first casino arrived in 1994 and many more followed during a period when regulation was almost non-existent.

In 2003, new laws and regulations were introduced to limit the amount that could be wagered and to control the issue of licences. As of today, there are six officially-licensed casinos in the country, three of which operate under the SkyCity name in Auckland, Hamilton and Queenstown. Further venues exist in Christchurch and Dunedin, and Queenstown boasts an additional facility in the form of the Lasseters Wharf Casino. The country also hosts dog racing at a track in Cambridge.

The sport of choice for punters in New Zealand is Horse racing and fans can enjoy wagering at more than 50 race tracks via the TAB pari-mutuel betting pool. TAB also offers bingo venues and high-street betting shops. In 2003, as a result of The Racing Act, the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB) was formed to control all TAB betting operations including their betting shops, race-track terminals and websites. The board serves in excess of 170,000 customer via these channels.

Later in 2008, New Zealanders were given access to an online national lottery controlled by the NZLC (New Zealand Lotteries Commission). Along with the NZRB, these bodies are the only organisations permitted to offer online betting or gaming facilitates.

However, the use of overseas betting sites is not illegal and local residents are free to visit them and place bets. As a result, hundreds of foreign companies offer betting services to customers with New Zealand addresses.

It has been estimated that over $2billion is wagered each year by punters in New Zealand. In fact, gambling has become part of everyday life, with nearly half of all adults spending an average of more than $40 per week on gambling activities.

Prompted by such interest, political debate about future regulation has been ongoing, with some parties wanting more relaxed regulation and further casino expansion, and others arguing against any further licences being issued.