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Online gambling

Using today's technology, it's possible to gamble almost anywhere, 24/7. From the bedroom to the bathroom, even outdoors, and sadly a lot of us have learnt the hard way just how quickly gambling can go from fun to feeling out of control. Here are some of the traps to watch out for and some tips to keep yourself safe so you don’t lose more time and money than you meant to.

Safer Gambling Aotearoa

Traps to watch out for...

If pokies payout rates seem too good to be true, they probably are.

Most overseas sites encourage you to give them a go with free trials or lessons. These are likely to pay out credits more often than the real games, giving you a false idea about how often you can win in the real game.

Dodgy websites: If it's not legit - then quit.

If you gamble on overseas sites, be cautious. Some sites may be untrustworthy (for example, they may not guarantee your odds) and may have been designed to fleece you from your money. If the site or app doesn’t look trustworthy, do not use it!

Avoid one-click top-ups.

Once you’ve provided credit card details to a site or app, it’s very easy to keep topping up your credits. Rapid-fire gambling can leave you in a deep hole very quickly. Remember, the more time you spend on any gambling or gaming apps, the more money you’re likely to lose.

Be alert when playing online casino games on social media.

Social media sites often provide links to play free online casino games. While these can be fun, they’ve also been shown to lead people into gambling with real money over time. One study in America looked at non-gamblers playing free simulated casino games on social media. One in four people ended up playing real casino games within six months.

Be wary of gambling alone.

It’s possible to ‘get lost in the game’ and lose sight of the real world. The more you get hooked, the more isolating it can become.

Keeping your credit details safe.

Only use websites that offer a secure internet connection. Check for ‘https’ at the beginning of the address bar and a locked padlock in the browser. Use a low-limit credit card or debit card to further reduce your risk.

Can you gamble on overseas sites or apps?

Yes, but you do so at your own risk. It’s legal to gamble on overseas sites or apps but you’re not protected by any specific New Zealand laws. If something did go wrong on an overseas site, the laws that are intended to protect your rights in New Zealand are unlikely to be enforced. Some sites may add ‘New Zealand’ or NZ to their name to suggest they are safe site to gamble on, but they are still an overseas site and are not controlled by New Zealand law.

Forms of gambling not protected by NZ Law: All overseas lotteries. All pokies websites and apps. All casino websites and apps. All overseas sports betting and racing.

Lotto NZ and New Zealand Racing Board (TAB) are the only ways to gamble online in New Zealand that are controlled under New Zealand law.

No New Zealand based companies are allowed to offer online ‘casino’ types of gambling like virtual poker or roulette.


Be honest

It's important that you’re honest with yourself about your gambling and the harm it may be causing you or others.

This might feel really hard at first but it will help you to move forward in a positive way.

It’s also a really good idea to be honest with your friends and whānau, so that they can help come up with ideas and support your plans to cut back or stop gambling.

A good place to start is to keep a diary of how much time and money you spend gambling online. You could also keep a list of things you turned down so you could stay online.

Set yourself a limit

  • It’s easy to zone out when you’re gambling. Set a time limit to play online games, apps and social media games and stick to it.
  • Set a gambling budget, and stick to it. The money you spend can quickly add up.
  • If you find yourself trying to win back money you've lost, it's a sign things are getting out of control.

Take breaks

  • Balance your time spent online with other activities like going for a walk, cooking a meal, or chatting with friends.

Use technology to help you

Talk it out

  • Talking to someone close to you about what you’re doing online can help give you a reality check.
  • If your gambling feels like it could get out of hand, there are lots of free ways to get help.

Related information

Check out these other pages for safer gambling support and guidance.

Guide to casino games

Casinos are built to be exciting and entertaining, but each casino game is designed so players are disadvantaged. Get some tips on how to stay safe.

Step inside a casino and the atmosphere tingles with excitement. While it’s supposed to be a form of entertainment, it can become harmful. You’re likely to spend more than you win, so it should never be counted on as a way to make money.

Find out more

How pokies work

Pokie machines are designed to get you to keep playing for as long as possible. You can’t beat or cheat them even if you believe you have a system.

Many websites claim that they can tell you how to beat pokies. However, they’re usually created by companies or people that profit from them. The truth is that a lot of time and effort goes into making sure you can't beat or cheat a pokie machine.

Learn about how pokies really work here.

Find out more