Few people would associate the small island country that is New Zealand with gambling. The country’s name mostly evokes thoughts of beautiful scenery, warm weather, a rich indigenous culture, and the endangered kiwi bird, native to this territory. Gambling, however, is indeed a preferred pastime of many New Zealanders, or “Kiwis” as they endearingly call each other. The figures speak for themselves – gamblers from New Zealand collectively spent the impressive amount of $2.3 billion in the financial year 2016/2017 alone, as statistics released by the country’s Department of Internal Affairs indicate.
The four most popular forms of gambling that prevail in the country are slots or “pokies” as they call them, the lottery, racing, and casino gambling, including real-money games hosted online. The island country’s population may be only 4.7 million people but this has not stopped various online gambling operators from penetrating New Zealand’s lucrative market. Many recreational players from the Land of the Long White Cloud indeed prefer to take their betting action online because this gives them a broader choice of gambling options, from sports betting to slots and casino games.
It is not difficult to recognize the advantages that come with online gambling, with New Zealand players being able to bet as they go, choose from a variety of trusted payment options, and redeem promotional packages to extend their play time. Many renowned and licensed web-based casinos have opened their virtual doors to New Zealanders so it can be a bit hard to find the website that is right for you, especially if you are a new player.
This is where the information published on this website may prove to be useful. We introduce you to everything you need to know about New Zealand-friendly online casinos, from the software and types of games they offer to the best banking methods Kiwi players can use to top up their real-money accounts. But before we get there, we shall say a few words on the legality of online gambling in New Zealand.
Legality of Online Casinos in New Zealand
Landbased gambling in New Zealand is legal but unfortunately the same cannot be said about operating online casinos within the country’s territory. The market is regulated under two important pieces of legislation, the first one being the Racing Act of 2003 which regulates betting on sports as well as on horse and dog races.
The second piece of legislation is called the 2003 Gambling Act. It distinguishes between four basic types of legal betting and everything that does not fit into these frames is classified as illegal. Under the provisions of the Gambling Act, all forms of remote interactive gambling are illegal, the only exception being the gambling activities offered by the local Lottery Commission and the Racing Board. The same applies to advertising remote gambling products and services to New Zealanders, which is also against the law.
New Zealand’s legislation divides all forms of gambling, except for sports betting and lotteries, into four basic categories. Class 1 consists of games which may yield a potential turnover of less than $500 and all fees players pay to enter are either returned to them in the form of prizes or are used for charitable purposes to the benefit of the local community. A special license is not required in order to offer such forms of gambling.
Class 2 comprises the same forms of gambling and the only difference lies in the size of the allowed potential turnover which increases to $5,000 and should not exceed said amount. A license is again not necessary but the games must be offered by a corporate society and not by individual persons.
However, a license is required in order to legally conduct games that fall into the Class 3 category where the turnover is above $25,000 and the gambling activity should not be conducted via a gaming machine. Finally, we have Class 4 gambling activities which involve gaming machines operated outside your typical gambling establishment. An example for this would be pokie machines operated in hotel lobbies or in drinking establishments like clubs or bars.
Interestingly enough, private gambling is also subjected to regulations in New Zealand. Despite the fact it is not considered a subclass of gambling, it, too, needs to comply with several conditions. The bets the participants in such games make need to be returned and redistributed among them in the form of prizes. Since the private games are not hosted by a corporate society, i.e. a casino, players should not be charged commission fees. A private game should also be fair which is to say the chances of winning of all participating players should be equal. Naturally, a license is not needed to host private games, they only need to cover the above criteria.
The bottom line is, if you live in the country and decide to place a few bets at an offshore gambling website, there is no need to worry the authorities would get on your heels. It is explicitly stated in New Zealand’s law that the prohibition on online gambling does not pertain to individual persons who participate in betting activities on foreign-based interactive casinos that are licensed and operated outside the country. In other words, you are free to join an offshore virtual casino and play for real money without trembling with fear of prosecution. Also, online gambling winnings are not considered taxable income in New Zealand.
Types of Online Casinos for New Zealanders
New Zealanders are welcome at numerous gambling sites which usually give them the option to pick from three different formats of play, download, instant-play, and mobile. We elaborate on each format below.
The first option Kiwi players face is downloading the given casino’s free software and installing it on their personal computers. The reason why many New Zealanders prefer this format is that playing through a downloadable software enhances the quality of their experience.
The installation process is rather straightforward but instructions are also included for those who experience difficulties. The software gives you access to the entire gaming selection offered by the casino but is updated as new games are added over time. One of the few downsides of installing the software is compatibility. With most New Zealand online casinos, especially those powered by developer Microgaming, the software client can be installed only on desktop computers and laptops operating on Microsoft Windows OS.
Some Kiwi players prefer download casinos because the latter give them access to a more wholesome selection of casino games. In contrast, the no-download versions of the casinos would often feature more limited gaming libraries.
The quality of the games in download casinos is normally superior to that of the instant-play versions because of the technological restrictions in place. Since downloaded games are installed on your hard drive, they are less reliable on the quality of your internet connection. The smoothness of the gameplay largely has to do with your computer’s specifications. This translates into richer graphics, smoother animations, improved sounds, and better responsiveness.
Players who load the games through downloadable clients would experience fewer screen freezes and glitches, if any. In addition to this, download casinos would feature the same functionalities as those on their websites. The player would be able to get in touch with support, participate in promotional incentives, and manage their balance with the same level of ease and efficiency. Lastly, sometimes certain bonuses are tailored exclusively for download players and may be unavailable to those who access the instant-play version of the casino.
Despite their numerous advantages, download casinos have started to gradually give way to instant-play websites where Kiwi players get to enjoy enhanced accessibility and flexibility, respectively. This type of casino is also called no-download because you can access it in your internet browser, hence there is no need for you to install additional software on your device.
However, a no-download casino may require you to install the flash plug-in or update the version you are currently using to a newer one. In many cases, you will not have to go through this installation process because the plug-in may be already built into your web browser. Some instant-play casinos continue using Java, with a growing number of operators transferring to the HTML5 language. The latter has a number of advantages over Java and Adobe Flash. It is not as likely to crash, reduces the loading times of multimedia content, and enhances flexibility since it eliminates the need for using additional plug-ins.
HTML5-based casinos also hold an edge over their Java counterparts where security is involved. Java is an open-source language which makes it more susceptible to security breaches. These require more resources and manpower to handle and control. Whenever there is a security breach at a Java-based website, a patch needs to be issued but this often may lead to new security vulnerabilities, which on their own require patching. This renders HTML5 the better alternative for online casinos accepting real-money bets because they would not put their customers’ funds and sensitive data at such risk.
The third type of gambling sites Kiwi players will come across are the mobile-friendly casinos. Our everyday lives are increasingly dependant on mobility as we use our smartphones to pay bills, contact each other, share multimedia with the world, and not surprisingly play our favourite casino games. This tendency is clearly observed in the Land of the Long White Cloud.
Statistics issued by the country’s government show us that as of June 2017, there were as many as 3.8 million smartphone users in the country who regularly accessed the internet while on the go. This is an impressive number considering the country’s population is only 4.7 million. Moreover, New Zealanders’ internet usage on the go grew by 104% in 2017 in comparison to the figures recorded in the previous year.
This goes to show mobile-compatibility is at the core of any gambling operator’s success and most New Zealand-friendly casinos have already recognized this. The options for mobile users looking to bet while on the move are practically the same as those for desktop players. There are two ways to access New Zealand mobile casinos. The easiest option would be to use your internet browser and you need a stable internet connection for the purpose. Feel free to use any browser you deem fit – Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera Mini, Safari, and Firefox are all considered very reliable choices.
Gambling providers would sometimes design mobile apps you can download and install on your smartphone, just like you would with download casinos. These can be downloaded directly from the App Store, if available. New Zealanders who have Android-based devices will have to visit the casinos’ websites on their smartphones and download their free applications from there.
The mobile versions of the casino games are just as visually impressive as their desktop cousins. Since the games have been adapted for play on the go, their graphics are just as crisp, if not even crisper. In many cases you will not have to struggle clumsily with tiny buttons since the casino games are optimized for touchscreen play, allowing you to access certain features through sliding or tapping motions.
Software Suppliers of Virtual Casino Games
The global iGaming market has been on the rise in the past couple of years but forecasts predict this positive tendency is to continue in the future – the industry’s volume is expected to increase to almost 60 billion by 2020. It makes sense this creates a competitive market where both gambling brands and software development companies are trying to remain on par with their rivals.
Software is, in fact, an integral part of any successful online casino, including those that accept play from New Zealand. Some brands lean towards a single software provider who is behind their entire portfolios. An increasing number of New Zealand-friendly casinos would collaborate with several different software companies, in an attempt to present their players with a wider choice of gaming options. Partnering with multiple software providers results in an amalgamation of themes, styles and features that is quite difficult, if not impossible, to recreate by a brand using the services of a single developer.
When you access Kiwi-friendly online casinos, you are guaranteed to come across titles by some of the biggest names in the world of casino software development, like NetEnt, Microgaming, Play’n GO, NextGen, IGT, Playtech, and Betsoft.
NetEnt was established in 2002 in Sweden and has been on the top of the game since its creation. The company has designed hundreds of top-shelf table games and pokies that are all available in no-download format. Visiting a NetEnt-powered casino ensures a beautiful and seamless experience since the developer’s creations stand out with excellent graphics and audio.
New Zealand players especially prefer some of the developer’s progressive games. Life-changing jackpots await those who play pokies like Hall of Gods and Mega Fortune. The company is also highly recognized for its live dealer suit which consists of classic table games, streamed in real time from NetEnt’s Maltese studios.
Microgaming is another big name New Zealand players need to pay a closer attention to. In fact, it stands behind what is considered to be the first online casino software development company in the world. Based in the Isle of Man, Microgaming came to be in 1994 when the brand launched the first interactive casino in the world. Its portfolio’s sheer size is mind-boggling, with hundreds of premium titles under its umbrella.
Many of these are available in instant play via Microgaming’s dedicated Quickfire platform but some casinos also give you the option to download a robust software client. Other notable achievements Microgaming can brag about include the development of the first mobile-compatible casino software and the launch of the first ever branded Playboy-inspired live games.
Playtech is another giant whose creations New Zealanders get to enjoy. This is one of the older software development companies whose history dates back to 1999. The company outshines many of its competitors by creating intuitive and graphically impressive games with a huge winning potential. The slots designed by Playtech have found their way into the hearts of many New Zealand players thanks to their innovative features and superior animations. In addition to its wholesome slot collection, Playtech also creates a variety of traditional table games, ranging from roulette and blackjack to Sic Bo and Casino War.
NextGen may not be of the same caliber as the three developers we talked about above but its games have still managed to capture the attention of many players from the Land of the Long White Cloud. The company was founded in 1999 and has been enjoying a good deal of success since then. NextGen indeed lives up to its name, offering New Zealand players a gaming experience like no other with amazing animations, authentic audio, and a straightforward interface. There are over 100 online casinos utilizing software from NextGen and many of those are open to New Zealanders as well.
Another brand name we would like to direct your attention to is that of developer Play’n GO. This is another Sweden-based supplier of premier casino games which are often to be found in multi-platform casinos. The company emerged in 2004 and has since launched a healthy selection of world-class slots and iconic table games. New Zealanders would be greatly impressed by the visual and audio quality of Play’n GO casinos, with some of the most noteworthy titles being Viking Runecraft, Moon Princess, and Gemix.
Many New Zealand-friendly casinos would offer games, developed by the supplier Betsoft. Established in 1999, Betsoft has so far released a nice variety of thrilling casino products but is held in especially high regard for the titles from its 3D slot collection. These games are beautifully crafted and would have you confuse them for animated movies. The slots from the 3D series aim at reaching a broader audience but would certainly hit the spot with New Zealanders who are known for their love of pokies.
Another name this list cannot do without is that of developer IGT, short for International Gaming Technology. The company started out as a landbased gaming supplier but went on to introduce its online division in 2004. Its games are compatible with all kinds of devices and ensure an unforgettable betting experience to all New Zealanders looking for impressive visuals and a seamless gameplay.
IGT’s software relies on the flash technology which is to say no download is required to play the games. The company has introduced a number of innovative slots to the world, many of which are based on its landbased creations. We wholeheartedly recommend New Zealanders to try games like Cleopatra, Siberian Storm, and Wolf Run.
New Zealand Casino Games
New Zealand-friendly casinos surpass their landbased counterparts when it comes to the sheer number of available options. The typical casino to accept play from this jurisdiction would feature hundreds of different titles, each one with a distinct theme, bet limits, and rules. Players from this country are catered to with a mind-blowing variety of online slots but New Zealand casinos would also offer a host of table and lottery-style games as well as many video poker variations.
Slots, or pokies as Kiwi players prefer to call them, are easily the best-loved games in this nation. Statistics indicate that pokies are so hugely popular in the country there is one landbased pokie machine for every 211 people from the population.
This wild success can be attributed to pokies’ straightforwardness and simplicity. Fun is another factor contributing to their success. The players place the desired bet and spin three, five, or sometimes even more reels with different symbols. When the reels come to a stop, the software would analyze the symbols and pay out for matching combinations according to the game’s paytable.
The pokies you can find at New Zealand casinos are miles away from the one-arm bandits of bygone days. Many of the games can easily be mistaken for animated movies thanks to their advanced graphics and the animated clips incorporated into their gameplay. Some online casinos that welcome New Zealand players are linked to progressive networks so that the jackpots on some of the games accumulate across many different websites. Some of the must-try pokie games you should pay attention to at New Zealand casinos include Mega Moolah, Age of Gods, Jackpot Giant, Mega Fortune, and Immortal Romance.
Blackjack is another casino game commonly preferred by players from New Zealand. Here you play against the dealer and whoever gets the closest score to 21 wins. If the value of the hand goes above 21, you lose the round.
The good thing about playing blackjack at an online casino is that you are facing an immense diversity of variations of the game. There are the standard options like Atlantic City, Vegas Strip, Surrender, Double Exposure, and European Blackjack but more adventurous fans of the game are given the freedom to experiment with unconventional versions like Duel Blackjack, Double Attack, and Blackjack Switch.
Much like pokies, roulette is a game of chance and few other casino offerings can match it where excitement is concerned. Another thing roulette has in common with slots is straightforwardness. Here the player is betting on where they think the tiny while ball would settle. Since roulette wheels contain alternating red and black compartments with odd and even numbers from 0 to 36, it is possible to make a huge range of bets. The payouts awarded for winning bets are proportionate to the odds of winning, so the lower your chances, the higher the prize and vice versa.
Like most other table games, online roulette is available in many different variations, with the three most common options being the American, French, and European versions. The only noticeable difference between the American version and the other two variations is the additional zero pocket. This might appear like an insignificant difference but it considerably reduces your winning chances, so we suggest Kiwis to stay away from it for their own good.
Online Video Poker
Another casino game that is very popular among casino players from this island country is video poker. Some gambling fans would prefer it over other commonly available options like slots because it involves a high level of decision-making. Players can improve their winning chances by using a strategy.
Video poker is usually played with a deck of 52 cards and there is a reshuffle after every hand. The player is awarded a payout upon forming one of the five-card poker hands listed in the game’s paytable. Many New Zealand players choose video poker for its low house edge since payout percentages here are usually 96% or above.
The most popular variation among Kiwi players is Jacks or Better but you can find plenty of other options at online casinos accepting play from this country. Wild cards are in play in some of the available variations, allowing you to complete winning hands when you are short of cards. Many casinos would offer video poker in a multi-hand format where you can concurrently play up to 100 hands.
Online Keno and Scratchcards
Players from New Zealand love to engage in lottery-style games like Keno and many would prefer to do so online because this prevents them from having to wait for the draw. The online version of the game is played in the same manner and the purpose is again to pick the correct numbers. The more correct picks you have, the higher your payout will be.
The rules may differ between online Keno games, but in general, the player is required to pick between 2 and 10 numbers out of a total of 80. The RNG would then draw 20 numbers and if at least two of your picks are among the selections, you receive the corresponding payout. Similarly to the pokies offered by New Zealand casinos, the Keno games would have paytables where you can check the sums awarded for different matches. Some of the variations, like the one developed by Playtech, enable you to play consecutively between 1 and 5 rounds with the same picks.
Scratchcards are another lottery-style type of game many Kiwis would prefer to gamble on. The computerized version of scratchcards was introduced in 1974 by US computer scientist John Koza. Today, scratchcards have spread throughout the world and are widely available across hundreds of landbased locations as well as online.
Many New Zealand-friendly online casinos would offer scratchcards and there is a variety of themes Kiwis can choose from. Players love them because they offer instant gratification without the need of developing a specific set of skills to play. All you have to do is scratch the designated areas on the card with your mouse and if several of the symbols hidden underneath are identical, you win a prize. New Zealanders are provided with a bevy of options created by top supplies like Playtech and Microgaming. Some of the must-try cards you may come across at New Zealand online casinos include Treasure Tree, Bunny Boiler, and Plunder the Sea.
Live Dealer Games
Live dealer games are becoming increasingly popular among New Zealanders since they serve as a blend of interactive gambling and landbased casinos. Their introduction to online casinos is considered by many one of the most important innovations in the iGaming industry. Live dealer games feature high-quality video footage that is broadcast in real time from the dedicated studios of the software suppliers. Players can adjust their stakes and make different bets just like they would in a randomly-generated game. However, here it is a real human dealer who settles the bets and controls the game.
This makes the entire experience all the more rewarding because of the added social element. There is a real interaction between players and dealer. Communication between the two parties involved in the gameplay is possible via the chat functionality. You type in what you want to say, the dealer reads it and responds to you from your computer screen. New Zealand players would find a wealth of classic options hosted by live dealers, from card games like Casino Hold’em, baccarat and blackjack to games of chance like roulette. Some live casinos even offer unconventional options like Wheel of Fortune.
Topping Up Your New Zealand Casino Balance
Gambling fans residing in New Zealand are now provided with a vast array of banking methods that enable them to conduct secure and straightforward deposits and withdrawals to and from their online casino accounts. All data concerning the transactions is protected by online casinos by the best encryption technologies and special firewalls so there is no need for Kiwis to be on tetherhooks when initiating a payment.
One of the methods that are best suited for New Zealanders is POLi. POLi poses as a reliable and easy-to-use option, which is exclusively available for residents of Australia and New Zealand. This is a third-party internet banking platform that allows you to transfer money from your personal banking account to your online casino balance without revealing your sensitive information. To use it, you must hold an account at one of the supported banks for New Zealand, which include Westpac, ANZ, Kiwibank, ASB, BNZ, TBS Bank, and Bank Direct.
E-wallets like PayPal, Skrill and Neteller are another viable option for Kiwis looking to deposit and withdraw real money into their casino accounts. Both methods are quite user-friendly and effective but require players to go through a quick, free registration. After you sign up, you must fund your e-wallet account via a bank transfer or a card, and you are good to go. When using these three methods, you need to provide your wallet’s log-in credentials to carry out your deposit. Both e-wallets are easy to use, very reliable, and are supported for withdrawals.
One of the most effective ways for Kiwis to control their online casino spendings would be for them to use prepaid solutions like Paysafecard or Entropay. Paysafecard is a prepaid voucher you can purchase at landbased retail outlets or online, choosing from different denominations like $10, $20, $50, $100, and $200. Each purchaser is provided with a unique code consisting of 16 digits. You enter the code and the desired amount of the deposit and that is it – there is no need to give out any information about yourself. Paysafecard can be used only for deposits, however.
Entropay is similar in that it is also prepaid but the method comes in the form of a virtual card by the brand Visa. You again must undergo a brief registration process to create up to 10 different virtual cards. The method works in more than 120 countries worldwide, including New Zealand, but unfortunately NZD is not listed among its supported currencies. Entropay conducts payments only in USD, EUR, and GBP. Of course, New Zealanders who own credit/debit cards by MasterCard and Visa should feel free to use them at New Zealand-friendly casinos where both brands are commonly accepted.
Fortunately, all these methods are available at most New Zealand-friendly casinos so you will not face much trouble in finding a website where you can play for real money. Worrying over currency conversion charges is also unnecessary if you are a New Zealander because most operators to accept action from this jurisdiction would enable you to select your local NZD currency when you sign up.
New Zealand Casinos Promo Packages
One of the most essential things Kiwis should look up when in search of an online casino are the welcome promo packages offered by the operators. Online gambling operators love to give away free casino credits to new members but before you hurry and opt in for a bonus, make sure you read the small print in its terms and conditions. As a customer, you are expected to fulfill a number of conditions before the casino permits you to cash out your winnings.
Welcome bonus packages may come in different shapes and forms but usually would consist of a match of your first deposit where you are given an amount in free credits equal to the deposited sum. Some New Zealand casinos would throw in a given number of free spins for you to use on their most popular slots in addition to the deposit match.
There are online casinos that would even offer new players from the country no-deposit bonuses, awarded after the completion of one’s registration. The winnings accrued with no-deposit bonuses are tightly capped at given amounts. Despite that, these offers give you a chance to see what the casino is all about without losing any money of yours.
The New Zealand casinos recommended on our website also offer various incentives to regular customers. An example would be the reload bonus you can claim upon depositing repeatedly at one such website. Some of these reload bonuses are available to regular depositors only during certain days of the week or month.
Referral bonuses are another common way for operators to reward New Zealand players. They are given to those who bring one or more of their friends to the casino. Players are usually rewarded with the promised free credits after the friends register, deposit and start betting real-money at the casino.
New Zealand casinos strive to retain players’ interest by comping them for their real-money action. In most cases, customers are automatically enrolled into loyalty programs, starting at the lowest level and gradually progressing to higher tiers by frequenting the website and placing real-money bets. When the player has accrued the needed number of comp points, they can exchange them for more free play or other perks.
Many New Zealand casinos would also host VIP programs for high rollers but access may sometimes be granted by special invitations only. VIP customers are known to enjoy better perks like personal account managers, quicker withdrawals, and better comp-point exchange rates.
Finding the Right New Zealand Casino
Finding the right New Zealand casino may be a cumbersome task due to the impressive number of iGaming operators welcoming customers from the island country. Casino rookies may be dumbfounded by the vast choice they are facing which is where BestCasinoSites.co.nz can prove to be useful. We have tried and tested the casinos reviewed here, ensuring they offer the best possible experience for Kiwi players.
The operators listed here all share several traits that are common among all reliable New Zealand casinos. One of the first things New Zealanders should consider when deciding on where to play is gaming versatility. It is important for your casino of choice to provide you with a broad enough selection of pokies, video poker, table and specialty games so that you would not lose interest in playing there. The number of software developers the casino is powered by is also important – the more suppliers your chosen operator is affiliated with, the better. This way you will benefit from a broader spectrum of features, graphic styles, and themes. A good New Zealand casino would also provide you the option to gamble real money on your mobile device.
Always make sure you check the promotional page when browsing through the website of a casino you are interested in. A smart player would shop for the best bonuses and promotions with decent wagering requirements that are easy to clear. The same pertains to the number of deposit and withdrawal options a New Zealand casino works with. You must ensure your preferred operator accepts the methods that are most convenient to you, processes transactions quickly, and does not charge you on the payments. It goes without saying that Kiwis should always look for a casino that allows for transfers to be made in the local NZD currency.
Finally, security should be New Zealanders’ top priority. A reliable casino is committed to its customers’ protection, safeguarding their funds and information with the best security technologies. Its software needs to be certified as fair by popular testing agencies like TST, eCOGRA or Gaming Laboratories International. The casino should operate under a valid license, granted by regulatory authorities like those based in Malta, the UK, Alderney or Gibraltar. If you still find it hard to decide where to play for real money, be sure to check some of the New Zealand-friendly casinos we have reviewed.