How do New Zealand’s Online Gambling Laws Compare to Australia’s?


Australia and New Zealand are two former British colonies that sometimes get mistaken for each other. Nonetheless, Aussies and Kiwis are two different groups of people with different cultures and practices. 

In this article, we examine the differences and similarities between these two countries in terms of the gambling landscape. 

Here’s how New Zealand’s online gambling laws compare to Australia’s. 

General Gambling Frameworks

All gambling activities are regulated by the statutes of the revised Gambling Acts of 2003 in New Zealand. The regulations therein were first enacted in 1908 when gambling on sporting events only was first legalised in New Zealand. Over the years, from the ‘60s to the ‘90s, the regulations increasingly accommodated other forms of gambling. 

Across the Tasman Sea in Australia, all gambling activities are regulated according to the mandates of different states. The country has no overarching regulatory statute, so each state has its own gambling regulatory body and, consequently, its gambling regulations. Nonetheless, online and in-person gambling is generally legal across Australia regardless of location, as most states generally maintain a flexible approach to gambling. 

Therefore, New Zealand’s general gambling framework differs from Australia’s in the sense that it has a unified gambling act and overseeing body, while Australia distributes that responsibility across multiple states.

The Australian Government’s Department of Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development, Communication, and the Arts categorises all gambling activities occurring on broadcasting, datacasting, and online platforms as interactive gambling. As such, the department considers providing all such services to Australian residents because the Interactive Gaming Act 2001 prohibits all interactive gambling service providers based in Australia or offshore and those owned by Australians or foreigners from offering their services to Aussies. 

Gambling and Justice
How do New Zealand’s Online Gambling Laws Compare to Australia’s?

New Zealand’s Gambling Act 2003 generally makes online gambling illegal domestically. As such, many online casinos in the New Zealand gambling industry are offshore websites. These offshore casinos, according to Techopedia’s Sam Barnard, are a “safe bet if you are looking for generous welcome bonuses, reliable payment options, and a wide variety of games.”

Consequently, the online gambling laws in both countries are quite similar in the sense that New Zealand-based gaming operators are not allowed to offer online casino games. Still, players can participate in these games with foreign operators. Players looking to explore this option might need to look into some simple ways of elevating their social media presence in order to enjoy many social gaming features today. A similar situation is seen in Australia, although individuals may still obtain an internet gaming licence in the Northern Territory, thus confirming the distributed regulatory infrastructure earlier discussed. 

While some betting laws vary in Australia from state to state, there are certain rules and laws that are federally regulated and the gambling age in the country is one of them. That means the whole country has the same gambling age restrictions, no matter what state you’re in. Australian gambling regulatory bodies mandate that individuals must be 18 years or older before they are allowed to gamble in hotel and club venues, traditional or online casinos, or any other gambling establishments. 

Similarly, regulatory bodies in New Zealand also require bettors to be 18 years of age or older before they can legally participate in gambling-related activities. However, New Zealand takes things up a notch by raising the legal age to enter any casino’s gambling section to 20. To emphasise the severity of this mandate, people who break this rule could get up to a $500 fine. 

While New Zealand seems to have a tighter regulatory requirement compared to Australia, both countries have similar rules and guidelines for bettors to follow while playing games of chance in either country. 

Taxation on Gamble Winnings

New Zealand considers one-off winnings from gambling activities to be under tax exemptions. These generally include winnings from pokies, lotteries, and lotto. The country generally doesn’t tax gamblers for any amount won on gambling activities within the country. However, they will be required to declare winnings from all gambling-related activities outside the country. Nonetheless, there are provisions for willing individuals to declare how much they have won gambling and be taxed accordingly. As you might expect, many people do not take this option. 

Hands holding australian dollars 50 banknotes. Finance and payment concept
How do New Zealand’s Online Gambling Laws Compare to Australia’s?

On the other hand, the Australian Taxation Office maintains that Aussies do not need to declare their gambling winnings. The tax authorities believe that such earnings are only assessable income if the individual involved is a professional gambler. In such cases, the court would have to assess the manner in which the gambling activity took place and how much specialist knowledge they possess about the activity. Lastly, the scale of the operations would be considered when ascertaining the taxation on gamble winnings.

The online gambling regulatory frameworks in both countries apply generally to sportsbook betting as well. For instance, New Zealand’s sportsbook fans are not permitted to place bets with bookmakers based in the country. Instead, they are free to bet with all major British and European bookmakers. Likewise, these foreign bookmakers are not required to obtain licences from New Zealand regulatory bodies to cater to their audiences. 

However, in Australia, the entire gambling space is strictly regulated as bookmakers looking to enter the space must obtain relevant licences from the appropriate bodies. The relevant licenses depend on the exact territories in which they will be operating.

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