How online gambling became a favourite pastime in New Zealand


New Zealand has been inextricably linked to gambling, and its roots date back to the 19th Century.

Yes, New Zealanders have an insatiable appetite when it comes to slot machines, but they also have a love affair with sports betting, and the exploits of the national rugby union side at the World Cup over the past few years has only heightened this.

However, the trajectory that New Zealand has been on concerning online gambling has been a fascinating one, and they have been trying to stay ahead of the curve.

Indeed, it is thought that the global igaming industry could rise to $ 320 billion by 2026, and New Zealand will be eager to make a significant contribution.

On this page, we will trace the roots of online New Zealand gambling, discuss its success, as well as make some predictions about its future.

Flying out of the gate

The internet may have come to fruition in the mid-1990s, but by the late 1980s, electronic slot machines were widely in circulation.

New Zealand
How online gambling became a favourite pastime in New Zealand

Previously, horse racing was the dominant sport to bet on. It was a golden age when the Totaliser Agency Board (TAB for short) was given control to preside over horse racing in the state, but slots or pokies as they are known in New Zealand, won favour.

Getting the green light

Fast forward to February 2002, and a gambling bill was introduced before it received Royal Ascent 19 months later. The bill made clear that gamblers could bet at approved online operators, and they had to be authorised by Lotto NZ or by TAB.

By 2003, six new casinos were opened, with one in Christchurch, Auckland, Dunedin, and Hamilton, with two opening its doors for business in Queenstown, but it was online where things began to take off.

As a response, the TAB moved to offer betting products aside from horse racing, and New Zealanders were happy to place wagers on lotto-based games as well as table classics online, such as roulette, baccarat, and blackjack. Over time, these games would gain more traction and would surpass traditional sports betting for gross receipts.

Scaling up

While land-based establishments saw more gamblers pass through their doors, the online betting revolution in the 2000s was in full effect. Ultimately, online gambling provided New Zealanders more convenience in terms of when and how they could play.

Making deposits into their digital accounts as well as collecting bonuses had become easier than originally thought. Casinos were focused on directing as much traffic to their sites as possible. Indeed, the best gambling sites have become renowned for their extensive library of games. This is the case at the likes of Playzilla where players can tap into a range of slot classics, such as Starburst, but they can also land a very generous match deposit bonus which surpasses what is available at other digital operators.

Evolution of technology

If anything, the constantly changing technological landscape has made online gambling extremely popular in New Zealand. Aside from being more mobile-friendly and facilitating gameplay by incorporating functional native apps, casinos have been on the bandwagon in terms of embracing the latest trends.

golden cryptocurrency coins on dollar bills
How online gambling became a favourite pastime in New Zealand

New Zealand-based operators as well as those that have nestled as a foreign betting brand, have relied on providing state-of-the-art graphics, and that is certainly the case when it comes to in-play betting or live dealer casinos to make the experience as immersive as possible for players.

Yes, the aesthetics of a site will be very pleasing as will be the case with the mobile product, and no stone will be left unturned.

VR (Virtual Reality), AR (Augmented Reality), and AI (Artificial Intelligence) are still in the nascent stages, but it is poised to raise the bar in terms of what can be achieved with technology. We’ve already seen AI used to help code games, write books and we’ve even begun to experience AI-focused cryptocurrencies. Players don’t have to leave their own homes, and once fully embedded, it could well make land-based gaming destinations a thing of the past.

Online operators have never been prepared to rest on their laurels, and while the gambling industry has become heavily saturated, gambling brands are working tirelessly in a bid to stand out from the crowd.

Final Thoughts

The online gambling story may seem relatively short compared to other countries across the world, but what is ostensible, is that New Zealand has a penchant for online gambling, and that isn’t restricted to a particular game or sport.

For those on the outside looking in, New Zealand may not be the most mature online gambling country, but it boasts plenty of potential, and it is doing all it can to grow organically.

Of course, the next few years will be fascinating for New Zealand from an online gambling perspective, and you can expect to see a few more glorious chapters penned.

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