The Department of Internal Affairs

Te Tari Taiwhenua | Department of Internal Affairs

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Services › Casino and Non-Casino Gaming › Prohibited Gambling

Gambling in New Zealand is illegal unless it is authorised by or under the Gambling Act 2003. In addition to this rule there are certain forms of gambling that are specifically prohibited under the Act:

The Gambling Act classifies gambling into 4 classes (other than gambling conducted by casinos and the New Zealand Lotteries Commission). Each of the first three classes specifies different maximum prizes and turnover as well as who can conduct the gambling and whether a licence is needed.

Gambling activities that fall outside of these specifications are prohibited forms of gambling

Class 1

Class 1 gambling cannot have a prize or turnover greater than $500. All proceeds from the gambling (including interest), if conducted by an individual, must be applied to the winners. Only Class 1 gambling can be conducted by individuals.

Class 2

Class 2 gambling must have prizes with a total value between $500 and $5,000. The potential turnover from the gambling must exceed $500 but cannot exceed $25,000. This class of gambling does not require a licence but it must be conducted by
societies as defined in the Gambling Act.

Class 3 and 4

Class 3 gambling must have prizes with a total value exceeding $5,000. Class 4 gambling usually refers to gambling that utilises gaming machines. It is prohibited for classes 3 and 4 gambling to be conducted without a licence.

For detailed information on the requirements of the different classes of gambling, please refer to sections 22 to 31 of the Gambling Act 2003.

Remote Interactive Gambling Prohibited

Section 9(2)(b) of the Gambling Act 2003 prohibits remote interactive gambling. The definition of remote interactive gambling includes "gambling by a person at a distance by interaction through a communication device."

Communication devices include such things as computers, telephones, radios and similar devices. To fall into the definition of gambling the participant must pay something to participate (directly or indirectly) and there must be an element of chance in order to win money or a prize. The prohibition would include selling lottery tickets on the Internet and would also include a New Zealand casino website.

There are several exemptions to this general rule:
  • Sales promotions in the form of a lottery and conducted in New Zealand are excluded from the ban on remote interactive gambling. However, sales promotions that are not lotteries may fall under the definition of remote interactive gambling.
  • The Lotteries Commission and the Racing Board can conduct approved forms of remote interactive gambling.
  • Licensed class 3 lottery operators are excluded from the ban on remote interactive gambling until October 2024.
The Department has compiled a list of Frequently Asked Questions about remote interactive gambling. These have been designed for companies who are unclear if the promotion they are wishing to conduct is prohibited under the Gambling Act.

The prohibition is on remote interactive gambling in New Zealand and therefore does not prohibit gambling conducted overseas. For example, it is not illegal for someone in New Zealand to participate in gambling over the Internet if that website is based overseas. However, you should be aware of the dangers such gambling can involve. Giving details of your personal and financial information over the Internet can expose yourself to potential fraud or unsolicited correspondence. If the website is based overseas, your legal protections if you are a victim of fraud are dependant upon the legal system of the host country. If you are not sure of the legality of a website and the protections afforded, do not use it.

As technology changes the types of communication devices, and the ways of gambling, may change. These will be considered on a case-by-case basis against the definitions above to ensure they do not fall into the definition of remote interactive gambling.

The Gambling Act provides for penalties for anybody who participates in unauthorised gambling. Fines can be imposed of up to $50,000 for organisations and up to $10,000 for individuals. This includes anybody participating in remote interactive gambling and anybody who conducts the gambling.

For more information see Fact Sheet 27: Remote Interactive Gambling and Advertising Overseas Gambling

Advertising Overseas Gambling Prohibited

Advertising overseas gambling is prohibited under
section 16 of the Gambling Act 2003. An overseas gambling advertisement is any communication that publicises or promotes gambling, or a gambling operator, when that gambling, or operator, is outside New Zealand. It is also any communication that is reasonably likely to induce people to gamble outside New Zealand. Section 16 makes this an offence under the Gambling Act and carries a fine of up to $10,000.

There are some exceptions to this rule including:
  • When the promotion of the gambling or the gambling operator is merely incidental to the purpose of the communication, for example, a tourism advertisement that mentions a casino in a city
  • Advertisements intended for the promotion of gambling equipment intended only for buyers of gambling equipment
  • Advertisements or messages intended to prevent, minimise or treat harm including health messages concerning gambling.
For more information see Fact Sheet 27: Remote Interactive Gambling and Advertising Overseas Gambling

Prohibited Gambling Excerpts of the Gambling Act 2003

The following relevant sections of the Gambling Act 2003 are listed here for your convenience. A full copy of the Act and background history is available here:
Gambling Act 2003

9. Gambling Prohibited
    (1) Gambling is prohibited and illegal unless it is-
    (a) authorised by or under this Act and complies with this Act and any relevant licence, game rules, and minimum standards; or
    (b) authorised by or under the Racing Act 2003 and complies with that Act and any regulations made under it; or
    (c) private gambling.
    (2) The following types of gambling are prohibited and illegal and are not authorised by and may not be authorised under this Act:
    (a) bookmaking:
    (b) remote interactive gambling
4. Interpretation
  • remote interactive gambling
    (a) includes gambling by a person at a distance by interaction through a communication device; but
    (b) does not include-
    (i) gambling promoted by the Lotteries Commission; or
    (ii) gambling authorised under the Racing Act 2003; or
    (iii) gambling by a person in New Zealand conducted by a gambling operator located outside New Zealand; or
    (iv) a sales promotion scheme that is in the form of a lottery and is conducted in New Zealand

    For further information see: Remote Interactive Gambling FAQs (designed for companies who are unclear if the promotion they are wishing to conduct is prohibited under the Gambling Act).
  • communication device means a machine, device, or thing for communicating at a distance and using any technology (including telecommunication, radiocommunication, and broadcasting technology)
  • gambling
    (a) means paying or staking consideration, directly or indirectly, on the outcome of something seeking to win money when the outcome depends wholly or partly on chance; and
    (b) includes a sales promotion scheme; and
    (c) includes bookmaking; and
    (d) includes betting, paying, or staking consideration on the outcome of a sporting event; but
    (e) does not include an act, behaviour, or transaction that is declared not to be gambling by regulations made under section 368
  • society means an association of persons established and conducted entirely for purposes other than commercial purposes

s.16. Advertising overseas gambling prohibited
    (1) A person must not publish or arrange to publish, in New Zealand, an overseas gambling advertisement.
    (2) Subsection (1) does not apply to publishing or arranging to publish-
    (a) a health message concerning gambling; or
    (b) an advertisement for services to prevent, minimise, or treat harm; or
    (c) a message about preventing, minimising, or treating harm; or
    (d) an advertisement for gambling equipment intended for distribution only to buyers of gambling equipment; or
    (e) an overseas gambling advertisement in which the publicising or promotion of gambling or a gambling operator is incidental to the purpose of the advertisement.
    overseas gambling advertisement means a form of communication that-
    (a) publicises or promotes gambling that is outside New Zealand or a gambling operator who is outside New Zealand; or
    (b) is reasonably likely to induce persons to gamble outside New Zealand

Return to the Gambling Act 2003 page