NZ online poker sites overview
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New Zealand’s friendly attitude towards iGaming extends to skill-based games, online poker included. Generally speaking, players aren’t required to pay taxes on their winnings. Gambling-related regulations are very clear and permissive when it comes to individual players, but quite restrictive when it comes to businesses. This means that unlike the United Kingdom, New Zealand doesn’t have any relevant local poker operators.
This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, however, as local poker rooms usually pay much higher taxes than competitors operating within tax havens, which translates to much higher rake for the former. New Zealand-based poker enthusiasts are free to play at any of the largest international networks, including PokerStars, partypoker, and 888.
New Zealand online poker laws
The Gambling Act of 2003 is the most important legal document pertaining to online poker and other forms of internet gambling in New Zealand. As briefly touched on above, it deals exclusively with local service providers and renders it illegal for most local businesses to offer real-money remote gaming services to New Zealanders.
Currently, only two entities are exempt from this rule:
- The New Zealand Lotteries Commission
- TAB, the country’s sports and racing betting agency
What matters here is that neither the Gambling Act nor any other regulations prohibit New Zealand-based poker players from joining offshore poker networks and participating in their real-money games. In fact, foreign businesses aren’t even prohibited from offering their real money games to New Zealanders – they merely aren’t allowed to host their sites locally.
What is or is not legal in New Zealand?
New Zealanders are free to access all poker networks in the world, except for sites operating exclusively on fenced local markets.
New Zealand e-wallet deposits
New Zealanders are free to use all the major e-wallet services to deposit and withdraw. Whether you prefer PayPal, Neteller, or Skrill, if you live in New Zealand, you should be able to use your e-wallet account for poker-related banking purposes. Major New Zealand-friendly poker networks that support e-wallet deposits and cash-outs include PokerStars, partypoker, and 888poker, to name a few.
Where can I play poker online in New Zealand?
PokerStars is the largest online poker room in the world. It attracts more traffic than all other New Zealand-friendly poker networks combined. It also offers some of the best bonuses in the industry, even though their traditional volume-based loyalty system has been replaced with a more random, video games-inspired rewards program. If you don’t mind the tough competition, PokerStars should be your go-to poker site.
PokerStars game choices:
PokerStars has such a large player base that it can afford to host rather exotic poker games. If you’re looking for Hold’em or Omaha, you’re going to get 24/7 action all the way up to the highest stakes.
PokerStars is also the only site that offers Stud, or even mixed 8-Game poker or HORSE. Whether you’re looking for cash games, Sit & Go’s, or high-profile multi-table tournaments, PokerStars is pretty much guaranteed to exceed your expectations.
Other locations where PokerStars operates:
PokerStars’ sister sites are PokerStars Europe, which was created by merging PokerStars.fr and PokerStars.es, as well as PokerStars.it, PokerStars.pt, and PokerStars NJ.
888poker is the second-largest New Zealand-friendly online poker room in terms of traffic. Although this network is about seven times smaller than PokerStars, the competition is much softer. If you’re still learning poker, or if you’re simply a recreational player, 888poker might be the right place for you.
888poker game choices:
The action on 888poker is all about low-limit and micro-stakes Hold’em, but if you’re looking for some Pot-Limit Omaha action during peak-traffic hours, you probably won’t be disappointed.
888poker also gives you access to a solid tournament lineup, with plenty of high-profile Hold’em events hosted every weekend, though you probably shouldn’t expect prize pools of equal caliber to what can be found on PokerStars.
Other locations where 888poker site operates:
The most casual-friendly site available to New Zealand residents might be partypoker. Many of the players who frequent this network are casino gamblers, and they approach the game of poker with the same mindset they would employ when playing Roulette or slots. Traffic volumes are comparable to 888poker, so you shouldn’t expect any Stud or HORSE action here. The welcome bonus won’t impress, but the new cashback deal is much better than what most competitors offer.
partypoker game choices:
If you’re looking for anything beyond casual Hold’em, you’ll likely be disappointed. On a brighter note, partypoker allows you to participate in some surprisingly large tournaments, which are often on par with MTTs hosted by 888poker.
Other states where partypoker site operates:
Partypoker operates local sites in France, New Jersey, and Spain.
New Zealand and poker-related taxes
Recreational players are not required to pay taxes in New Zealand, so if poker is not your primary source of income, then rake is all you need to worry about. That and optimal game-play, of course.
Professional poker players are in a slightly different situation. If authorities determine that you rely on online poker to make a living, you may be required to pay an income tax. Unfortunately, this is can be heavily case-dependent, so if you aren’t sure whether you should be paying taxes, we recommend consulting a local tax attorney.
History of online poker in New Zealand
Before the Gambling Act of 2003, real-money gaming in New Zealand was regulated by three statutes:
- The Racing Act of 1971
- The Gaming and Lotteries Act of 1977
- The Casino Control Act of 1990
Generally speaking, any forms of gambling that were not considered beneficial to the community were banned. While online gambling specifically was not regulated at all, authorities could apply the general regulations to online players, which would result in a fine of up to $500 and even prison time. In fact, even running a site with just poker advice could leave a New Zealander open to prosecution.
Fortunately, the government was well aware of the prohibitive nature of these regulations, and introduced extremely permissive laws in 2003.
This Gambling Act of 2003 was reinforced even further with the introduction of the Gambling Amendment No. 2, which passed in 2007 and which brought additional accountability to the owners of land-based gambling establishments and real-money gaming machines, such as slots.
Where can I play live poker in New Zealand?
Unfortunately, New Zealand residents don’t have access to any large land-based poker rooms. All in all, New Zealand has just nine poker tables spread across four poker rooms:
- Dunedin Casino poker room (188 High St, Dunedin, 9016, New Zealand)
- Sky City poker room (90 Federal Street, Auckland, 1010, New Zealand)
- Sky City Casino Hamilton poker room (346 Victoria St, Hamilton 3204, New Zealand)
- Sky City Queenstown Casino poker room (24 Beach St, Queenstown, 9300, New Zealand)
If you’d like to go on a live poker trip to Australia, you should definitely consider visiting the Crown Melbourne Casino (8 Whiteman Street, Soutbank VIC 3006, Australia) and the Adelaide Casino (Station Road, Adelaide SA 5000, Australia), both of which feature poker rooms that are significantly larger than their New Zealand-based counterparts.