Online gambling - staying on-guard

With online gambling available 24/7, a lot of us have learnt the hard way just how quickly gambling can go from fun to feeling out of control. Here are our top tips to make sure you don’t lose more time and money than you meant to: 

Tips to keep your online gambling just for fun. 

Set yourself a limit:

  • It’s easy to zone out when you’re gambling. Set yourself a time limit to play online games, apps and social media games. 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 that you've lost, it's a sign that things may be getting out of control.


Use technology to help you

  • Lotto NZ offer ways to limit your spending. You can set your spending limits online in your account settings, block yourself from online games or exclude yourself from purchasing Lotto games in retail outlets. 
  • TAB allows you to set limits on spending through your account dashboard, and a range of other options to manage your gambling.  
  • If you feel you’re spending too much time on an app or website, remove your credit card details and/or uninstall the app. You could also use an app like Betblocker or Gamban to block access to online gambling websites.
  • Keep an eye on the games your kids are playing. There’s a blurry line between gaming and online gambling. Be careful to not let them rack up huge bills by buying in-app purchases.

  • There are really useful free self-management apps like the Gambling Therapy App and the Cost2Play calculator to help you understand your gambling and develop strategies to manage it better. Note, these apps are developed overseas so refer to their Help services. Our local services can be found here.

Take breaks

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


Talk it out

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

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. This gives 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 decide to 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 have 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. 
Talking to someone close to you about what you’re doing online can help to give you a reality check. It’s healthy to keep a diary of how much time and money you spend gambling online. You could also keep a list of other things you turned down so you could stay online.

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 are 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 enforceable.

  • All overseas lotteries - not protected by NZ Law
  • All pokies websites and apps - not protected by NZ Law
  • All casino websites and apps - not protected by NZ Law
  • All overseas sports betting and racing - not protected by NZ Law
  • Lotto NZ  (Lotto, Powerball, Strike, Keno, Bullseye, Instant Kiwi) - protected by NZ Law
  • Sports betting and racing - protected by the TAB


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.