The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

Building a safe, prosperous and respected nation


Services › Casino and Non-Casino Gaming › The Rules for Running a Gambling Activity

There are a number of gambling activities that societies (and in very limited circumstances individuals) can run. These include housie (also known as bingo), instant games, game of chance, lottery and prize competitions.

If you want to run one of these games you need to follow the relevant game rules for the type of activity. You will not need a licence from the Department of Internal Affairs unless the total value of the prizes and/or the turnover exceeds certain limits. The value of any-non cash prizes is the retail value.

  • Housie

    Housie is also known as bingo.

  • Instant games

    E.g. scratch and win games run by schools and mystery envelopes.

  • Game of chance

    E.g. gaming session, filly stakes and parlour derby.

  • Lottery

    E.g. raffles and sweepstakes.

  • Prize competitions

    E.g. tagged fishing competitions, sporting competitions where some or all of the entrants go into a draw, rugby tipping-type competitions, and calcuttas.

See also:

If you have a query you can contact the Gambling Group on 0800 257 887 or by email to

Obtain a licence

Where the total value of all prizes (the retail value for any non-cash prizes) for any of the above games (excluding housie) exceeds $5,000 the gambling activity
must be conducted by a society and the relevant forms filled in to obtain a licence. These should be sent to the Department's Gambling Group.

With the exception of housie, a Class 3 gambling licence is a "one-off" issued for the duration of that specific activity (e.g. lottery, gaming session, etc). Each subsequent activity requires a separate licence application.

Note: A housie licence can be granted only to a corporate society. A housie licence is valid for one year, and must be renewed each year. If it is not renewed, it expires at the end of the 12-month period for which it was issued.

What gambling proceeds can be used for

Money obtained from gambling must benefit the community, as determined by the
Gambling Act 2003.

NO commission can be offered or paid to, or received by, a person for conducting gambling, except if a Licensed Promoter is employed. Licensed Promoters can be employed only by a society holding a licence to conduct Class 3 Gambling.

NO remuneration is to be offered or paid to, or received by, a person for conducting gambling, except a caller of housie or an authorised representative of the society conducting the gambling.

With the exception of Class 1 Gambling turnover and/or total prizes (the retail value for any non-cash prizes) for Class 1 gambling are each $500 or less, and the gambling is conducted by individuals (for example, an office sweepstake), net proceeds from gambling must be applied or distributed to Authorised Purposes. Authorised Purposes must be non-commercial. They must also be charitable or of benefit to the community.

Proceeds from Class 1, 2 and 3 gambling (lotteries, housie, instant games etc.) can be also used for electioneering purposes.

Prohibited Prizes

It is illegal to offer the following as prizes:
  • A firearm, explosive (including ammunition), restricted weapon, or airgun
  • Alchohol
  • Tobacco products
  • A taonga tuturu (an object more than 50 years old that relates to Māori culture, history or society, and was manufactured, modified, used, or brought into New Zealand by Māori)
  • Vouchers or entitlements to commercial sexual services
  • Vouchers or entitlements to any of the other property listed above.
Second-hand goods and non-residential land can be offered as prizes.

Game rules require that the nature of gambling prizes must be fully disclosed.
  • Prohibited Gambling - certain forms of gambling are specifically prohibited under the Gambling Act 2003.