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Sports Betting in New Zealand Explained

Hit the Google engine and it doesn’t tell a lie. New Zealand punters love placing bets on sporting fixtures.

In 2016, an Auckland welder turned $NZ12 into a life-changing $NZ183,894 windfall when he picked nine correct results in a multi-bet involving five different sports.

A year later, a Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) punter had correctly picked all eight games in round one of the Super Rugby competition to pocket $NZ34,000.

That year, another punter claimed $NZ25,110 for a $NZ10 wager on professional golfers SSP Chawrasia winning the Indian Open and Sergio Garcia slipping on the green jacket at The Masters, respectively. But a punter had stolen the 2017 thunder in placing a random $NZ2,442 on six winners at the New Zealand Trotting Cup to rake in $NZ249,950.

Fast forward to November 2020, a Christchurch punter had created TAB New Zealand history in placing a $NZ30 First4 bet on the Melbourne Cup in Australia to claim $NZ1.16 million.

If the examples above show one thing, it’s that Kiwis are not shy to place bets on just about any code in exchange for lucrative returns.

Is it Legal to Place Bets in Sports?

In short, yes. Sports betting is a totally legitimate activity in New Zealand.

A Kiwi can put a wager on turning 18 years old.

What makes Aotearoa New Zealand different from many other nations is that the TAB NZ is the only legal sports betting agency within its shores. The Racing Industry Act 2020 outlines, through Sport New Zealand, what is a sports event.

However, that doesn’t mean Kiwis can’t seek a flutter by placing their bets on overseas online betting platforms. The Department of Internal Affairs and its affiliates recommend using safe online sites, considering it’s easy to find oneself in cowboy territory of an unregulated global industry.

The online sports betting sites openly promote themselves as platforms that offer more generous odds and a better variety of choices in placing wagers than what the TAB NZ rolls out. Conversely, the TAB NZ is more trusted with New Zealanders because of its walk-in betting shops and reputation as a household brand.

No doubt, that doesn’t imply overseas online sites cannot be trusted. The platforms are fully licensed and conform to the gambling laws and regulations of the countries they are based in. However, disputes in payments for Kiwis means they will come under the jurisdiction of that nation.

On November 30, 2020, Sport NZ officially declared athletics, baseball, basketball, cricket, football (soccer), golf, netball, rugby, rugby league, sailing, tennis, volleyball, and water polo as sporting codes in the country.

Before officially declaring a code a sport under section 106 of the Racing Act, Sport NZ consults the TAB as well as the National Sporting Organisation (NSO) to make sure the code relates to section 80, pertaining to the sports betting agreement. The NSO also handles the appeal of athletes missing out on national selection as well as educating everyone on the policy of countering match-fixing in sport.

The Department of Internal Affairs has informed all offshore betting agents of their responsibility in contacting different sports in New Zealand in accordance with the Racing Act 2020. Through Sport NZ, it encourages individual codes to consult a list of offshore betting agents to contact if they haven’t heard from them.

What Constitutes Sports Betting in NZ?

Placing bets in New Zealand on sporting codes is no different to most of the other countries in the world. To receive a flutter, simply place a sum of money on an individual or team to win.

However, the betting sites aim to cater to the appetite of all sorts of punters. Apart from correctly predicting the halftime and full-time scores during a match, one can pick who will score the most goals in a football (soccer) clash, a double-double of points and assists in a basketball encounter, or which bowler is likely to concede a no-ball delivery in a cricket test.

Have your finger on the pulse and the bookmakers will not only return your wager but they’ll multiply the sum, against the betting odds, to boost your investment. If your predictions are off the mark, then the bookmakers will keep your wager.

Trying to work out the odds of winning is anyone’s guess. The smart punters tend to look at many variables when doing their homework:

  1. Who is playing at home?
  2. What’s the record of each team?
  3. Are the key players available?
  4. Does the weather suit one team better than another?
  5. Are the referees renowned for flashing yellow and red cards?

The formula for calculating the winning margin is straightforward, despite the variation in decimal and fraction methods that different countries adopt.

New Zealand, which employs the decimal system, simply multiplies the odds with the sum of money a punter places.

Let’s say the bookmakers are offering the odds of 1.95 for the All Blacks to beat France during the Rugby World Cup; and the Les Blues 3.05 to upset New Zealand in Europe. If you place $NZ10 on France to upset the All Blacks and the outcome prevails, you’ll pocket $30.50.

However, that’s where the gamble kicks in. The bookmakers are indicating their favouritism of the All Blacks. Consequently, the punters will be calling their bluff based on their experience and knowledge of the teams.

Should you place $NZ10 on the All Blacks to triumph then the pay-out will be a smaller $19.50 (that is, $10 x 1.95).

Where to Bet Online in Sports?

Surf the internet and you’ll find paid advertisements, via reviewers, rating any number of online betting platforms as the “best”.

Again, as punters, different factors will appeal to you based on what you’re looking for. Is it where most Kiwis place their bets? Do they offer a great mobile experience? How about live betting and streaming? Is the site easy to negotiate? What are the catches to the sign-up bonuses? Are the payment methods swift and accessible? Is it the best site for rugby, rugby league, basketball, netball, and soccer? Do they cover district/provincial competitions?

However, Bet365, Ladbrokes, William Hill Sports, Palmerbet, Betway, 888 Sports, LeoVegas, and 2Bet tend to feature among the reputable sites New Zealand punters prefer. The TAB NZ doesn’t waste time either in taking you to its site of key fixtures in Europe and America, with a “fast and easy” registration.

Best Sites for Popular Sports in NZ

Horse racing — thoroughbred (or gallops), trotting, steeplechase — is the most popular sports code for gambling in New Zealand. Hound (dog) racing also comes under its umbrella. The Melbourne Cup, across the ditch in Australia, in November, draws the biggest wager from New Zealand.

However, it pays to note that not every online sports betting operator offers a substantial horse racing platform.   

Winnings from sports gambling are tax-free, so punters go to town on it either at the New Zealand-based and online TAB sites or the numerous overseas online platforms.

Here are the most popular sports codes that Kiwi punters place bets on, as well as some of the most favoured betting sites:

Rugby Union

The international success of the All Blacks has made it the official No.1 sport in New Zealand. It’s a religion in the country. The Super Rugby men’s franchise competition also adds excitement.

Initially involving Australia and South Africa, now Super Rugby Aotearoa will continue as an NZ, Australia, Fiji, and other Pacific Islands competition. However, the inclusion of a semi-professional women’s franchise Super Rugby competition can become a betting game-changer from 2022.

New Zealand’s national provincial championship (NPC) also draws interest.

Best betting sites: LeoVegas Sports, Bet365 Sports, 888 Sports, William Hill Sports, Ladbrokes, ComeOn!, Mr Green have rave reviews.

Rugby League

The New Zealand national team, the Kiwis, have won a few world crowns but it’s the New Zealand Warriors competing in the Australian National Rugby League (NRL) who create the most interest in this code.

However, rugby league isn’t as popular among Kiwis and is a poorer cousin of rugby union in New Zealand. That doesn’t mean Kiwis don’t place bets on the Warriors or the other Australian franchise teams who have countless New Zealanders living and playing for them in the continent.

Best betting sites: All the rugby union sites above and add the likes of Betway, Guts, Mobilebet, and Royal Panda to the list.

Cricket

This is growing rapidly in New Zealand after the national team, the Black Caps, became the champion test nation when they beat India in England in the final in 2021. New Zealand also is hosting the ICC women’s one-day international World Cup on its soil from March 2022, so interest in cricket will be at its peak.

The number of Asians living in New Zealand means the interest goes all the way down to domestic competitions, such as the Super Smash Twenty20, Plunket Shield, as well as the IPL (India) and Big Bash (Australia) overseas.

Best betting sites: Betway, Bet365, and 888 Sports take you down to the domestic men’s and women’s competitions.

Soccer/Football

It’s important to differentiate “football” in this part of the world because of the interest in the Aussie Rules (AFL) and the American (NFL) among more serious punters.

Therefore, soccer is a clearer reference to the “beautiful game”. While the influx of Britons and Europeans has made the game popular here, English Premier League (EPL) fans still want to place bets on the Australian A-League where the Wellington Phoenix franchise men’s team is competing.

The entry of a youthful women’s Phoenix team this year may generate a healthier interest when they start winning more games. The interest in the national Chatham Cup (knockout men’s competition) and the NZ Football Championship in summer is basically untapped. Poor TV coverage doesn’t help.

Best betting sites: The usual popular sites of William Hill Sports and Ladbrokes but include the likes of Fansbet, 22Bet, and Vbet Sports to take you all the way to the domestic adult/youth leagues.

Netball

It’s the most popular female sport in New Zealand. A national team (Silver Ferns) member can earn up to $NZ50,000 a season. The Australian internationals (Diamonds) receive bigger contracts and have a more lucrative franchise competition compared with the semi-professional Kiwi one. Men play it, too, but it remains the distant relative of basketball. TV coverage of domestic and international matches boosts its profile.

Best betting sites: LeoVegas Sports, Spin Sports, Mr. Green, and 22Bet are up there but add the likes of 1xbet, Rizk, Intertops, and Karamaba to the list.

Boxing/MMA

The success of professional boxer Joseph Parker and UFC champion Israel Adesanya from New Zealand in the international arena has made these combat codes popular to bet on in New Zealand. Before the pandemic, Kiwi promoters had staged gala events in the country. With travel restrictions, punters will be looking for a fix via online sports betting sites with so many fighters opting to remain at overseas locations to keep their careers alive.

Basketball

The New Zealand Breakers, based in Auckland, draw the most Kiwi TV viewers when plying their trade in the Australian National Basketball League (ANBL) each season. However, the home-based NZBL also offers video streaming coverage culminating in Final Four Playoffs on Sky TV. For the basketball fanatics, the NBA in America and the European leagues offer a bigger flutter/

Motorsports

Petrolheads in New Zealand love to wager. They can place bets on anything from the high-octane Formula One Racing to the Moto GP (motorcycling) to the Australian V8 Supercar sprint and endurance events. The World Rally Championship draws a fair bit of interest from punters who tend to place bets on the multiple stages of the three-day rallies.

Yachting

As the America’s Cup holders, New Zealand is at the forefront of punters’ minds within the country and abroad. With the onset of the global pandemic, the uncertainty surrounding the venue of the next racing will add to the intrigue of who may be the next champions. Like motor rallying, sailing enthusiasts can place bets on different stages of racing.

Golf

The resurgence of LPGA champion Lydia Ko and fellow Kiwi PGA professionals, such as Ryan Fox and Danny Lee, make this code challenging but popular, too. The individual form of a professional player can drop in the blink of an eye as much as a rookie player upstaging major champions on any given day. That can make things quite tricky for punters.

FAQs

Is online sports betting legal in New Zealand?
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