Internet Betting in New Zealand on the Rise


Posted: October 18, 2014

Updated: June 4, 2017

The New Zealand Racing Board announced record revenue on the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

Annual profit rose 0.2% at the New Zealand Racing Board (NZRB), the authority overseeing all racing and sports wagering in the country. The board posted record turnover on the Football World Cup, which trumped the previous record set in 2011 during a major rugby championship. The strong local currency and great offers available at online sportsbooks in New Zealand also helped.

Over the 12 months ending July 31, the country’s sports betting industry generated as much as $137 million. According to a report released by the Wellington-based wagering monopoly, these figures reflect a slight increase from the 136.7 million posted during the previous year. Turnover went up 6.7% to $2.09 billion, marking another record as this was the first time when income exceeded $2 billion.

Punters wagering on the FIFA World Cup brought in as much as $32.3 million this year, $2.1 million more than the amount bet in 2011, when New Zealand hosted the Rugby World Cup.

New record on a single event

The NZRB distributes its profits among three Racing Codes:

• Thoroughbred Racing
• Harness Racing
• Greyhound Racing

NZRB acting chief executive Stewart McRobie told reporters that soccer brought in a lot of money this year, but added that profits were weighed down by the cost of the board’s digital offerings and the appreciation of the New Zealand dollar against Australian currency.

“The Football World Cup was very successful for us – it’s been a record single event in terms of betting surpassing even the Rugby World Cup,” he said.

The Racing Board is a legislated monopoly in New Zealand. Established in 2003, the authority was created to administer all sports betting and racing in the country. The service caters to more than 148,000 customers and owns a retail network of over 640 betting shops. In addition to 69,000 domestic and imported thoroughbred, harness and greyhound races every season, the NZRB supports a number of sporting events.

All profits from betting on the on the gallops, trots or greyhounds, as well as on international sports events returns to grass roots racing and sports in New Zealand. This year the board gave $5 to the National Sporting Organization and $2.3 million to other sporting bodies.

Complete online and mobile betting offer

Now the NZRB is trying its best to secure its monopoly against foreign-based online betting sites by establishing its own digital services. But the board knows that having a website is not enough to win the heart of a punter, so it had to come up with competitive offers to draw more customers.

“Our move into digital is very much about meeting our customer needs and ultimately it will be about protecting our business,” Stewart McRobie explained, adding that a brand new mobile betting app for sports fans was launched this year, and the board has plans to bring out one for betting on races as well.

“Unless we move into digital we’ve got offshore competitors that are competing for New Zealand customers. They’re offering odds on New Zealand sporting events, odds on New Zealand racing events, and New Zealand customers, by virtue of the internet, are able to go and bet with those offshore providers.”

Eliminating the competition

The Gambling Act of 2003 forbids internet gambling in New Zealand, with the exception of a few lottery and betting services run which are strictly regulated and supervised. But the Government has not outlawed or banned international online casinos and sportsbooks, so many local players turn to these instead of home-based services.

While New Zealand gambling laws don’t allow foreign-based operators to promote their products on the local market, major gambling companies often sponsor sports events or football teams, and this is how the word gets out. Since they have no physical presence in the country, these companies don’t have to pay taxes or licensing fees, so they can afford to offer very favorable odds.

“Particularly in Australia, there are quite a number of large corporate bookmakers,” McRobie said. “They’ve all got online sites and it’s easy enough for a New Zealand customer to open an account with them and to start betting.”

Meanwhile, the NZRB is making efforts to offer local punters everything they need, in order to encourage them to spend their money locally. The rise in FIFA World Cup bets shows that local services have a lot of potential, but there is still a lot of work to be done. Perhaps once mobile betting takes off in the country the industry will grow.

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