History of Gambling in NZ

Gambling in New Zealand sees its origins with the European Settlers during the colonial era in New Zealand. During this time gambling was a commonplace form of entertainment among a wide spectrum of players. From wealthy young British aristocrats sent to the New Zealand colonies by their parents hoping to cure them of their excessive spending and wild ways, to working class sailors and tradesmen. Card games were a popular choice but betting on other things such as billiards and skittles were also enjoyed. The most popular form of gambling entertainment however was horseracing and this was enjoyed by many New Zealanders as it was thrilling, fun and sometimes even an opportunity to get rich!

The Gambling Act of 1908 put paid to all this however as it declared all gambling illegal, apart from Horseracing, but that too was limited as one could only legally bet on a race if you were physically at the racetrack when the race was occurring.

Of course, this didn’t deter people from finding ways to participate in their favourite games and this used to happen in underground venues across the country. Bookies also used to run successful businesses despite the Gambling Act, and used to network with each other via telegraph and telephone enabling them to place bets on the races from across the county.

Gambling in New Zealand continued to be illegal until the establishment of the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) in 1951. This was a government owned enterprise, which helped to regulate off course betting and this took a lot of control and influence away from the bookies who had up until that time been operating illegally.

What Happened After Gambling Became Legal

After gambling in New Zealand first became legal, the next step was the introduction of the first New Zealand Lotteries. The most significant of these was the Golden Kiwi Lottery which was established in 1961. The popularity of this was an instant success with all tickets for this game being sold within 24 hours of going on sale. The lottery continued to be a huge success later evolving into the Lotto and still later expanding to include scratch cards, Keno, Lotto Strike and Powerball to name a few.

“Pokies” were the next big advance in the history of gambling New Zealand. “Pokies” was the name given by locals to electronic slot machines or electronic poker machines. Due to the wider demand for a bigger variety of gambling options, the government legalised Pokies to be used in clubs and hotels.

The History of the Casino

What began with betting on horseracing, and evolved to include Lottery, Lotto and Pokies, made its natural progression to the establishment of a venue one could visit in order to participate in a whichever your favourite form of gambling entertainment was. Locals had a large variety of games to choose from, while enjoying refreshments and various other forms of entertainment. Christchurch Casino was the first in New Zealand, and opened in 1994. There are now 5 more casinos open in the country, which include Skycity Hamilton, Dunedin Casino, Skycity Auckland, Skycity Queenstown and Wharf Casino.

Online Gambling in New Zealand

The final step in the timeline of gambling in New Zealand brings us to online gambling. This is characterised by the use of the internet to play a wide variety of casino games. The first online gambling software in the world was developed by a company called Microgaming, and this was further secured by online security software by a company called Cryptologic. This allowed secure transactions to take place online allowing players to perform financial transactions safely. With the 6 casinos open in New Zealand, online casinos have filled in the geographical gaps allowing players in every corner of the country to play wherever they have an Internet connection. Further developments in the online gambling industry are now also expanding and improving to include mobile casinos and apps that allow players to play from their mobile devices.

From betting on the horses to online casinos, the history of gambling in New Zealand shows the development of a much-loved industry from its humble beginnings to the massive business it is today.