Gambling has long been a part of the New Zealand culture and way of life. The 19th century saw its inhabitants bet on cards and athletics competitions. However, much like its neighbour, Australia, the most common and popular form of gambling was done on horse races. The very first ever race meeting was held in the Bay of Islands in 1835. Many of the Protestant churches provided stern opposition towards the end of the century though, and this led to increased restrictions. By 1910, bookmakers were banned from horse racing events.
Today, there are roughly five major forms of gambling in the country. These are spread out across racing, lotteries, slots (or pokies as they’re called in the country), casinos and online casinos. Pokies, which are the main products of Netent, were only introduced to New Zealand in 1987. Within the country, physical slot machines are operated by charitable foundations and are mostly found in hotels and bars. Maximum jackpots from these machines are regulated. In the year ending June, 2008, turnover stood at $10,096 billion, although $9,158 billion was returned in prizes, making player losses stand at $938 million.
There are currently six licensed casinos in the country, which are located in Christchurch – the first in the country, which was opened in 1994 – Dunedin, Hamilton, Queenstown. Wharf and Auckland – home to the largest of them. Skycity provides the country with its biggest casino group, and in 2013 they signed a deal with the National-led government in order to increase the number of pokie machines and gaming tables at its casino in Auckland. This would be done in exchange for the building of a $402 million convention centre in the city.