Ever since the first online casino launched in the mid-90s, players from all over the world started playing online instead of going to land based casinos. Different countries have different laws and it’s therefore not always clear whether players are allowed to play at an online casino, or even what the repercussions would be if they did.
Over the last few years online casinos have also taken a more strict approach as to which players they do allow, regarding the players’ jurisdiction. While some casinos may restrict players from certain countries, other casinos only accept players from specific countries – all in terms of the legal status.
Which brings us to the question that every player from New Zealand wants to know: is it legal to play at an online casino if I’m from New Zealand?
Is it Legal?
The short answer is: Yes. If you are living in New Zealand and want to play at an online casino, you are allowed to. Thanks to the Gambling Act of 2003 which makes it very clear: “It is not illegal for someone in New Zealand to participate in gambling over the internet if that website is based overseas.” What exactly does that mean?
In simple terms, if you want to register at an online casino, and you are living in New Zealand, you may do so and play with complete peace of mind if that website is not registered in New Zealand. And that’s easy to find out because all online casinos will make it public knowledge on their website where they are based and where they are licensed.
And even if you can’t find the information, a quick phone call, email or live chat session to the customer support team of that casino will answer your question in a matter of minutes.
Do I Pay Tax on Winnings?
This brings us to the next questions that players from New Zealand would ask: do I have to declare my winnings and is it tax-deductible?
Inland Revenue has stated that as of 3 April 2006, all income from online gaming is exempt from income tax. This is however only applicable if the specific online casino is licensed to conduct online gambling under the Gambling Act of 2003, and if they comply with this Act.
The reason for this is that Inland Revenue considers online gambling as a hobby or a pastime for most players and profits are therefore not regarded as taxable income.
As with any rule, there may be a few exceptions, so we recommend that you read about this further on the Inland Revenue website.
Online vs. Land Based
We now know that playing at an online casino, if you are in New Zealand and if the site is registered overseas, is legal. But what about land based casinos in New Zealand? The fact is that in New Zealand, almost all forms of gambling are both legal and extremely popular.
New Zealand is a country that may be very strict when it comes to regulations, but it’s also very liberal and does not tell adults how to spend their money. Therefore, almost all the laws about gambling in New Zealand focus only on the operators and not the players.
While there are still players who prefer to play at a land based casino, many players have made the move to online gaming as it’s more convenient. Would you play in a real casino that’s filled with players or simply play in the comfort of your home, or play and win on the go with a mobile casino also available.
However if you do still prefer to go out and gamble at a land based casino, the best ones are probably Christchurch Casino, which opened in 1994 and was New Zealand’s first land-based casino.
Or Dunedin Casino, offering players the latest pokies and table games all under one roof, as well as top class rewards and exclusive VIP treatment.
What to Look For at an Online Casino
We’ve covered that status of online gambling in New Zealand and know that it’s legal. We’ve also covered the fact that you do not have to pay tax on winnings, plus online vs. land based casinos and the pros and cons. So what if you prefer to play at an online casino – you know you are allowed to, but which one do you choose?
There are so many online casinos on the internet that it’s not very easy to find that best one.
The fact is there are loads of great online casinos; it’s really up to you to find your favorite. But there are also online casinos that do not comply with the law, or may not be your first choice, so here are some of the key factors to keep in mind when choosing an online casino in New Zealand:
- Is the online casino registered outside New Zealand? As per the Gambling Act of 2003, it’s perfectly legal for players from New Zealand to play at an online casino, provided that the casino is based outside the borders of New Zealand.
This information should be available on the casino website, so you can see where the casino is licensed, e.g. Malta. In case you cannot find this information, simply email the casino support team to find out, or move on to an online casino that has its registration details clearly displayed.
- Does the casino accept players from New Zealand? Even though it’s legal for residents from New Zealand to play at an online casino, there may be some casinos that restrict players from certain countries. Find out first if the casino accepts players from New Zealand and, most importantly, if you can play in the currency of your choice. If you can register your account at an online casino and choose NZ$ as your preferred currency to play in, then you are already at a great casino.
- The support team: When looking for a great online casino, always find out if they offer support to players from New Zealand. Sure, everyone speaks English, but can they provide 24/7 support and does the casino have a toll-free number for players from New Zealand? That is crucial because then you will also be assured of dedicated support.
- The games: This is important no matter which country you’re from, but still an important factor to mention. The best online casinos will offer a variety of games including pokies, video poker, table games and scratch cards.
To sum up: if you are living in New Zealand, there is nothing that stops you from playing at an online casino. All you need to do is to make sure that the casino is licensed outside of New Zealand and follows the guidelines of the Gambling Act of 2003.
When looking for an online casino, keep the factors listed above in mind, find your favorite online casino and start playing. Registering an account is quick and easy and also keep an eye out for great welcome offers that each casino has.
The most recommended bonuses are the match offers where the casino will give you a percentage bonus on your first deposit. And most importantly, have fun!