The Growing Popularity Of Online Gambling Sphere In New Zealand


According to official data, more and more Kiwis turn to online gambling. Over the past 18 months, locals have spent NZ$381 million on gambling websites and the number continues to grow. However, opposers claim that the government is more interested in regulating the sector to make it friendly for the companies, not for the people. So is this popularity growth beneficial or harmful?

We decided to explore the topic deeper to find out whether the interest in online gaming is real and if there are things to worry about. A quick disclaimer: all NetEnt online casinos that offer an excellent service and generous bonuses protect Kiwi players and responsible providers regularly fight compulsive gaming.

Official statistics

Last year New Zealanders spent over $2,4 billion on online gambling, which estimates almost $650 for each citizen. This sum is $50 million higher than last year but if the population growth and inflation are taken into account, there wasn’t much difference compared to 2019.

Even though there is a common trend of spending less on gambling, groups for problem gamblers say that the harm related to this sphere is the same or even higher. According to the Department of Internal Affairs, the biggest share of expenditures goes to pokies or so-called slots. In total, New Zealanders spent $895 million on pokies during the past year.

These machines are considered to do the most harm and officials put much effort into reducing the effect that pokies have on those with addiction. But despite all the measures, the total money spent on pokies was almost the same as last year - $238 per one citizen compared to $242 in 2019.

Around $580 million was spent in six land-based casinos and $350 million – on racing and sports betting, which had the biggest growth among other types of gambling. The Department of Internal Affairs says that the reason is attractive marketing campaigns of sports events like the Football World Cup.

Gaming culture and support of the government

Almost 70% of New Zealand responders said that they play casino and video games on a daily basis. 52% are men and 48% - women. Just imagine – everyday Kiwis gamble around three hours!

It’s not a secret that New Zealanders spend lots of money on the games they love whether these are casino or video games. Thus, Kiwi players are constantly targeted with free spins, bonuses, regular promotions, and other perks.

The gaming culture in New Zealand is rather similar to one of their neighbours, Australia. There one player spends around $1200 on gambling every year. And almost 80% of Aussies have tried online gambling at least once during a lifetime.

But what is the role of the New Zealand authorities and what do they say about the growing popularity of online gambling? First things first, the government doesn’t license online casino sites. However, they don’t prohibit Kiwis from joining offshore websites. In addition, these winnings are not taxed. Thus, it’s not surprising that locals are head over heels in love with online casino games and know that accessing hundreds or even thousands of sites is not illegal.

But even though New Zealand authorities don’t regulate the market, Malta, the UK, and New Jersey have regulatory gambling bodies. In addition, Alderney, Curacao, and Gibraltar give out licenses to reputable casinos. Thus, when choosing one of the licensed online gambling sites, New Zealand players don’t have to worry about anonymity and protection of sensitive data.

Playing on the go

Another feature that significantly increases the popularity of casino games among Kiwis is the fact that online gambling sites are entering the mobile market. Over 90% of New Zealand players enter websites using their smartphones and tablets. In 2013 only 44% of gamblers were using mobile devices to play casino games.
Due to simpler and faster access to the Internet on the go, more and more players are able to enjoy casino games no matter where they are. And considering that Kiwis are a smartphone nation, the interest in online gambling will continue to grow.

Should we do something about it?

It’s not a secret that gambling was called an addiction along with drug and alcohol use. Thus, we should be careful when playing games. Gamblers from New Zealand, Australia, the USA, and other countries must play responsibly and remember that online casinos are a way to entertain yourself and not to spend a fortune or to escape the real world.