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Gambling comes in many different activities and forms – it usually includes you giving up something of value for a possibility to get more than you had put down originally, but you could also possibly lose everything or a part of what you put in.

There are certain legal restrictions on gambling in NZ. This section informs you about the laws around gambling in NZ.

What is gambling?

You can gamble on anything that involves an element of chance, like a sports event or something involving cards. If you offer money or something else valuable, in hopes of getting something more back if a certain outcome happens, then you’re gambling.

Usually, the idea is that if that outcome happens, you’ll get back more money than you put in – and if it doesn’t, then you lose everything that you put in, but sometimes, you could lose money even if your guessed outcome happens. You should always check what you’re agreeing to.

There are several types of gambling in New Zealand with age restrictions.

How old do you have to be to buy a lotto ticket?

There are no age restrictions for participating in lotteries like Lotto, Bulls Eye, Play 3 or Keno.  If you’re under 18 years old and you win a prize of more than $1000, you have to get your parent or legal guardians to sign an Acknowledgement Form before you can claim your winnings.

Can I buy a scratch card if I’m under 18?

There is a legal age restriction on instant games or a lottery that is frequently drawn. Under the Gambling Act 2003, it’s a crime for anyone under the age of 18 to buy an Instant Kiwi ticket or for someone to buy a ticket on behalf of an under 18-year-old. It’s also illegal to sell an Instant Kiwi ticket to someone under 18.

At what age can I place a bet on a sporting event?

To bet on a race or a sporting event at the TAB, you have to be 18 years or over. You could be fined up to $500 for placing a bet or trying to place a bet if you’re under 18. If someone older tries to place a bet on your behalf, they can be fined up to $1,000.

Can I enter a casino when I’m 18?

No. The legal age to enter the gambling part of a casino in NZ is 20 years old. If you’re caught in a casino restricted area underage, you could be fined up to $500. Many casinos, such as Sky City, may also have company policies where a trespass order will be taken against any underage persons found on the gaming floor.  Where this happens, you won’t be able to return to the casino for a period of up to 2 years – even if you happen to turn 20 during those 2 years.

You’re free to enter the unrestricted parts of the casino if you’re under 20 – e.g. restaurant in the casino building but outside the restricted area.

How old do you have to be to use gaming machines like pokies?

It is illegal to use a gaming machine like pokies at any clubs, pubs or restaurants if you’re under 18. So clubs will restrict access to under 18-year-olds if gaming machines operate within the club.

If you play on a gaming machine and win. If gambling operators reasonably suspect that you’re underage, they are allowed to not give you your winnings.  They do have to keep a record of your name and address, the amount of money or the prize won, and the date. If you are legally allowed to be gambling and can prove your age within seven days, you can claim the money or prize back.

If you’re convicted under the Gambling Act 2003 for gambling when you’re underage, the Court can order that you to pay back any of your winnings to the gambling operator.

I think I have a gambling problem, who can help me?

Gambling Helpline New Zealand provides a 24 hour, free helpline for people who are concerned about their own or someone else’s gambling. You can call the helpline for counselling, advice, or a referral to another gambling support organisation. You can call them on 0800 654 655 or text them on 8006.

They also have specialist services for:

  • Maori – 0800 654 656
  • Pasifika – 0800 654 657
  • Youth – 0800 654 659

Other gambling help services include:


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