Betting on Kiwi Passion: The Story of Sports Wagers in New Zealand

The inaugural recorded sports bet in the country occurred in 1867 during a horse race between two local Mori tribes.
All Blacks Rugby is the most popular sports team in New Zealand.
All Blacks Rugby is the most popular sports team in New Zealand.@AllBlacks on X

Sports betting has become part of New Zealand’s sports culture, but how did it come to be? Over a long history, Kiwi betting has evolved into what it is today. Let’s take a closer look at the history of sports wagering in New Zealand.

The Beginning

The inaugural recorded sports bet in the country occurred in 1867 during a horse race between two local Mori tribes. The popularity of betting on horse racing soared during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, further facilitated by the introduction of TAB (totalisator automated betting) outlets, providing increased accessibility for enthusiasts.

Following legislative changes in 2012 regulating online sports betting operators, several companies obtained licenses, marking their entry into the market. The pioneer,, commenced operations in December 2012 and has since diversified its offerings to include an online casino and poker platform. You can explore more about sports betting in NZ, but only after reading more about its history.

Casino Gambling Introduced

In 1992, New Zealand marked a significant turning point by legalizing casino gambling. Prior to this milestone, casino gambling had been prohibited. The inaugural casino to emerge post-legislation was the SkyCity Casino. Despite being in the planning stages since 1989, it officially opened its doors in 1996. SkyCity Casino swiftly became a substantial revenue source for the government, setting a precedent that prompted the establishment of additional casinos.

Following suit, the Auckland Casino became the second casino to open its doors in 1999, situated in Auckland. Renowned for its popularity, the Auckland Casino can accommodate around 1,000 people simultaneously.

The Rise of Online Gambling

The regulation of gambling activities in New Zealand falls under the jurisdiction of the Department of Internal Affairs, overseen by the Gambling Act of 2003. Enacted twenty years ago, this legislation delineates the legal and illegal aspects of betting and gambling within the country. A distinctive feature of the NZ Gambling Act is its non-restriction of online gambling and betting originating from outside New Zealand.

Exceptions to these regulations include entities like RITA (the Racing Industry Transition Agency), responsible for operating New Zealand's only on-shore sportsbook, the TAB NZ. Likewise, Kiwi gambling institutions like Lotto NZ and Instant Kiwi are exempt from certain provisions of the Gambling Act. Importantly, the Gambling Act of 2003 is primarily concerned with regulating betting and gambling companies, not individual players. To oversee and enforce the provisions of the Gambling Act, the Gambling Commission operates independently.

Now, New Zealand features one of the most robust online gambling infrastructures because of this regulation and proliferation early on.

Anticipating New Zealand Sports Betting

Several distinctive features set sports betting in New Zealand apart from other regions. Notably, it doesn't enjoy the same level of popularity as in some other countries. While there has been a notable increase in sports betting participation, the market is not saturated with a multitude of bookmakers, unlike the UK, where the abundance of options can be overwhelming.

Additionally, the limited number of bookmakers often translates into a diverse range of markets to choose from. The popularity of sports as a betting option in New Zealand has surged, particularly fueled by their success at the previous summer Olympics.

Trending Stories

No stories found.
Bettors Insider