From offline to online – New Zealand´s love towards pokies


Although gambling is a global phenomenon and has existed almost as long as humans have inhabited this planet, every country has a slightly different history, legislation and preferences when it comes to trying one´s luck at a casino. The history of gambling in New Zealand is relatively new compared to many other countries. For a long time it was all about lotteries and horse racing – that is, until the pokies came to the picture.

The most popular way for Kiwis is definitely pokies. One may ask; what pokies are? Pokies refer to slot machines, and in New Zealand, they are everywhere. Besides land based casinos, pokies can be found at pubs and hotels. Although some of the revenue coming from these slot machines goes to the 6 land based casinos in New Zealand, most of the money lost by gamblers are lost on non-casino gaming machines.

In recent years, the battle between online and offline casinos has become more vigorous than ever before within the country. But how can it be seen, are land based casinos still up to date and what are online casinos doing better for the Kiwi gamblers? Let’s find out.

Land based casinos are thriving better than ever before

The Christchurch Casino, the first land based casino, was established in 1994. After that five more casinos have opened their doors to the Kiwi players. Operating under a relatively strict law, these casinos have still managed to keep up with the competition coming from abroad. Besides keeping up to date with the trends and offering deals to the locals, the land based casinos started to attract gamblers from Asian countries where laws and regulations towards gambling are even more strict. Thus, these gamblers from Asia are a major target group not only because of their willingness to visit but also because of their willingness to spend a lot at the casino.

That being said, online casinos definitely do have an edge that is likely to grow unless the offline side of it does not come with innovative marketing strategies. Online casinos have hundreds if not thousands of online slot machines available wherever one is located in. But, besides the availability, how have online casinos been challenging the brick and mortar casinos in New Zealand?

Online casinos vigorously challenging the offline competitors

Many of the online casino markets in Europe have been saturated and it is becoming difficult to stay competitive amongst so many competitors. This has forced them to hunt for new markets for a quick buck which is good news for those who enjoy gambling in emerging markets. Besides India, New Zealand is considered to be one of the promising markets for the industry. There are three main ways how online casinos are attracting Kiwis to play. The main one is the offers. Online casinos operating from abroad have way less restrictions on how they can promote and give discounts in a form of free spins and deposit bonuses. As they are often towards slot machines, the offers intrigue players enough to create an account and try. Review sites such as are great for getting a good overview of what is being offered a different casinos. Besides the offers, many online casinos have it all in one place: sports betting including horse racing, pokies and table games. Some even provide lottery services. The last part relates to the more technical side of things – many online operators offer superior payment services and allow Kiwis to play with NZD as currency.

There are always holes even in the strictest laws

In 2003, the Gambling Act was implemented in New Zealand. It was considered that the act had a major impact on how the scene of online gambling would look in following years. The Act put a stop on allowing licenses to any new casino venues within the country, thus meaning that not only new land based casinos could be opened but also online casinos within the country would all be illegal. These protective measures against gambling worked for a while but with the rise of online gambling globally, the loopholes were found.

Although the law has been the same since 2003, online casinos operating from abroad saw and seized the chance only a few years ago. The fact that the law does not touch upon gambling abroad was a victory for the gamblers in New Zealand as it allowed them to engage in sports betting, slot machines and table games from the comfort of their home. Most of these casinos are based in Malta which is considered as one of the paradise countries for the online gambling industry. As Malta´s gambling license is relatively strict and highly monitored, it has become associated with trust within the industry. SkyCity, the biggest land based casino company in New Zealand noticed the competition coming from abroad and decided to act on it in 2019 by operating an online casino through a Maltese subsidiary.


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