Let’s cover a subject that both novice and veteran punters in New Zealand have a lot of questions on – the legality of online casinos. Globally, online gambling has been around for over 25 years. However, it is over the last decade that it has truly skyrocketed in popularity worldwide, offering convenience and access to a variety of casino games from the comfort of one's home.

In New Zealand, online gambling has spawned a rapidly growing multi-million-dollar industry that has sparked discussions regarding its legal status. It is estimated that thousands and possibly hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders gamble online each year. Exact numbers are hard to come by.

The Gambling Act of 2003, which is the main law governing gambling in New Zealand, does not specifically address the issue of online gambling. As a result, there is some ambiguity about the legality of online casinos in the country. As a Kiwi myself, I understand the appeal and excitement of gambling, but it's critical that we are aware of where the law stands on this matter. 

So, let's get right into it and explore the often misunderstood legal landscape of online casinos in New Zealand, by shedding light on key legislation and regulations.

Is Online Gambling Legal in New Zealand?

Explanation of the Gambling Act of 2003

We start off with the Gambling Act of 2003. This Act is the official rulebook for gambling activities in the country. The legalese in the Act can be tedious to read so we are going to break down the key aspects in simpler terms.

Distinction between land-based casinos and online casinos

The main headline here is that the law’s application depends on the nature of the casino. The Act creates a clear distinction between land-based casinos, which are regulated and legally operated, and online casinos, which exist in a more complex legal environment. Let’s look at the details of each. 

In one corner, we have the land-based casinos. They are legal entities and regulated in New Zealand. Land-based casinos are closely supervised to ensure integrity, fairness, consumer protection and that they do not cross any red lines.

In the other corner are online casinos, a virtual arena where the existence and extent of legislative oversight can be ambiguous. In many ways, online casinos do just what online versions of other services do. In this case, they bring the services of land-based casinos to your phone or computer screen. You do not go to the casino – the casino comes to you. 

The legal status of New Zealand-based online casinos

Online casinos are almost certainly much more convenient for players compared to their land-based counterparts. But are they legal in New Zealand?

The answer to that is not as direct as it should be. That’s largely because the Gambling Act of 2003 bars local companies from offering online casino games to Kiwis. The implication is that any New Zealand-based online casinos cannot legally provide gambling services to residents.

The legal status of overseas-based online casinos

However, the situation is markedly different for the overseas-based online casino. The Gambling Act neither permits nor prohibits them. It fails to explicitly address these international platforms thereby leaving room for interpretation. In effect, the New Zealand government has taken the position that online casinos based overseas are not subject to the Gambling Act.

Perhaps it’s just one of those legislations that failed to evolve with the dynamics of the Internet Age. Or maybe it comes from a recognition of the great difficulty involved in policing online activities taking place on servers beyond New Zealand’s borders.

The implication is that you are free to sign up and play on an overseas online casino without worrying about breaking the law. From a legal standpoint, we might just be in the industry’s golden age as there are no guarantees the law will not be amended in future to make it more difficult to gamble online.

Interpretation and Implementation of the Gambling Act

How the Gambling Act is applied in terms of online gambling

We now have a good general understanding of the Act’s scope. Next, we delve into its interpretation and enforcement. The New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs is responsible for overseeing gambling activities and making sure everyone plays by the rules. While individuals that violate the Gambling Act have no guarantees of getting away scot free, the Act overall does not primarily target individual players like you and me – it focuses on regulating operators. 

The regulator’s overarching strategy is maximising impact by clamping down on non-compliant entities as opposed to arresting the service’s individual users. It makes sense resource-wise. You need much less effort and yet get a bigger payoff when chasing a dozen organisations than you do running after thousands of individuals.

Enforcement of the Act and how it is regulated

Enforcement measures are primarily carried out through a combination of proactive measures and investigations in response to reports or complaints. The Department of Internal Affairs actively monitors the online gambling landscape, collaborating with other regulatory bodies and international agencies to address any potential breaches of the law.

Legal consequences for violation

The consequences for violating the Gambling Act can be severe for local operators. They may face hefty fines of up to $50,000 or even imprisonment. These measures serve as deterrents, ensuring compliance with the law and safeguarding the interests of both operators and players.

We mentioned that individuals who break the Act have no guarantees of walking away with no repercussions. That’s because there’s a fine of up to $10,000 for each infraction. Fortunately, you have a much lower risk of failing the compliance test when gambling on an overseas online casino.

Can I play at online casinos in NZ?

Yes, you can play at online casinos while in New Zealand but that is only legal if the platform is based overseas. Of course, the absence of local regulatory oversight for overseas online casinos does come with some risks. There’s a chance the casino may not be under the supervision of any government body and not be subject to the same consumer protection laws as casinos that are based in New Zealand.

Fortunately, these risks are surmountable as long as you look in the right places. Fraudsters are everywhere, not just online – exercise reasonable due diligence and you should be fine. Pick reputable platforms that have a solid track record and have no incentive to run away with your hard-earned cash. Choose a casino that is licensed by a reputable gambling authority. 

Make sure the casino has a good reputation for player safety and fairness. Read user reviews of the casino before you sign up. A couple of negative reviews does not necessarily mean it’s a terrible service. However, an overwhelming number of bad reviews and on multiple review sites is a definite red flag. It’s unlikely so many users can be wrong about the platform.

When you do eventually settle on and first join a platform, start with small bets and increase them as you become more comfortable with the game.

To make things easier for you, here’s a list of legal and reputable online casinos for Kiwi players. These platforms have been vetted and deemed legal for New Zealand residents, ensuring a safer and more enjoyable gambling experience for you.

Can I withdraw winnings from online casinos in NZ?

Your ability to withdraw winnings should be one of the first things you look at before signing up on an overseas online casino website. Fortunately, you can withdraw your hard-earned winnings from an overseas online casino in New Zealand without legal repercussions.

That said, familiarise yourself with the withdrawal rules of each online casino you use. Different platforms may have varying requirements and processes for withdrawing funds. Each platform may impose certain limitations, such as minimum withdrawal amounts, wagering requirements, or specific documentation requirements. Read the terms and conditions to avoid surprises when cashing out.

Overall, there are a few important things to keep in mind. First, just because there are no legal barriers to withdrawing does not mean all overseas online casinos will allow withdrawals to New Zealand. Make sure the online casino you are using allows withdrawals to New Zealand. Second, you may need to provide the casino with some personal information, such as your name, address and bank account number. Finally, there may be fees associated with withdrawing winnings from an online casino.


The legal status of casinos in New Zealand is shaped by the Gambling Act of 2003. The Act, enforced by the Department of Internal Affairs, establishes strict regulations to maintain the integrity of the gambling industry and protect players. While land-based casinos fall under local law, the same cannot be said for their online counterparts. It’s a bit of a grey area depending on where they are hosted. 

New Zealand-based online casinos are a no-go but overseas-based online casinos are fair game. Just remember to choose reputable platforms to ensure legality and reliability, and confirm that you can withdraw winnings without a problem. Read my recommendation of the top online casinos in NZ where you can play legally and withdraw with no issues.

About the author 

Peter Clayton

Peter is one of Indivisible Gaming's developers and has been working with us since 2015. When he isn't busy working on an upcoming game, he loves writing about all the games that he has played and tested. His experience in the industry is second to none, and we are grateful to have him on our team.