Online gambling - staying on-guard

Using today's technology, it's possible to gamble almost anywhere, from the bedroom to the bathroom - even outdoors. Here are some of the traps to watch out for and some tips to keep yourself safe.

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  (Powerball, Strike, Keno, Bullseye, Play3, 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.

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. The free trials or practice sessions are likely to pay out credits more often than the real games. This can lead to false ideas about how often you can win in the real game.1

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 could 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.2

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.3

Be wary of gambling alone.

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

By talking to someone close to you about what you are doing online, this 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.

Tips to ensure your gambling remains just for fun.

  • Set a time limit to play online games, apps and social media games. Stick to it.
  • Set a budget limit. The money you spend can very 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.
  • Keep an eye on the games your kids are playing. There is a blurry line between gaming and online gambling. Be careful to not let them rack up huge bills by buying in-app purchases.
  • Balance your time spent online with other activities like going for a walk, or catching up with friends.
  • If your online gambling feels like it is getting out of hand, then there are lots of ways to get help.
  • If you find that you are gambling too much, you can set a limit on your spending.
  • Talking to someone close to you about what you are doing online can help to give you a reality check.
  • You can ask the TAB to put a weekly limit on your account.
  • Lotto NZ also offer ways to limit your spending. You can set your spending limits online, block yourself from online games or exclude yourself from purchasing Lotto games in retail outlets.
  • If you feel you are spending too much time on an app, un-install it.
  • If the site has an offer that sounds too good to be true, it probably is. There is a high chance that it is a scam. If it's not legal, then quit!