If you are thinking of embarking upon a gambling vacation, then you are unlikely to consider New Zealand to be worthy of a place anywhere near the top of your list of destinations. New Zealand is a hotbed of gambling in the same way that Las Vegas is a hotbed of clean-living, juice bars and bible reading classes, although New Zealand casino resorts do exist!
In fact, if you are planning a gambling vacation, why not consider going to Las Vegas, or the China-based wagering hotspot of Macau? Those are fine places to consider, but only if you can handle the pace! In gambling terms, Las Vegas and Macau are money-eaters, so you should only go there if you can handle your gambling! There’s been many a story of a poor soul tripping to LV or Macau intending to limit their indulgence to $1,000, only to end up with nothing but the clothes they arrived in and a head full of regrets.
Even if you are a sensible gambler, you are going to need a healthy bank balance in order to make your Las Vegas or Macau worthwhile. When you lose your money (and you will) there’s very little else to do in either place that doesn’t involve gambling or shows and events that really cost $$$s.
Why do what everyone else does? A gambling vacation doesn’t HAVE to mean Vegas!
So, why not consider New Zealand instead? Gambling is ‘kind of’ frowned upon in the country (as is the case in countless jurisdictions across the globe where it is frowned upon but not actually banned) and indeed there are no online New Zealand casinos. People in New Zealand are free to play at online casinos based in the UK, US, Canada and other jurisdictions as long as the casinos are properly licensed.
People in New Zealand are free to gamble at casinos in the real world too. Gambling came to the islands in the 1870s but was banned in 1920. The ban was partially lifted in 1961 with the establishment of the TAB – New Zealand’s only online bookmaker. Pokies (which are what New Zealanders call slots just like their Aussie cousins) did not arrive in NZ until 1987, and the first of five casino resorts opened in 1994.
So, why take a gambling trip to New Zealand? Well, first and foremost there is plenty to do in New Zealand besides gambling! It really is a beautiful country (the geography of which you have probably already seen countless times if you’ve watched any of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings or Hobbit films) and well worth any kind of vacation experience. When it comes to your wallet, it’s much better to combine sight-seeing with a bit of gambling, than gambling with a bit of sight-seeing!
The five casinos in New Zealand are all in different parts of the country – Auckland, Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton and Queenstown – so it’s a handy excuse for a New Zealand gambling road trip!
Here are the salient facts about each of the casino resorts currently operating in the country of New Zealand.
SkyCity Casino, Auckland
There are Sky Towers all over the world, but Auckland in New Zealand can boast the tallest of the lot. It can also boast one of the world’s biggest casinos, and the biggest of the five.
The SkyCity Casino in Auckland is open 24/7, and as well as 150 wagering tables (offering everything from blackjack to three-card poker) and over 2,000 pokies, the casino offers a high-class bar and private members areas. It also offers ‘learn to play’ packages if you’re unfamiliar with any particular gambling game.
SkyCity Casino, Hamilton
The second of three SkyCity, this casino is virtually a carbon copy of the Auckland-based SkyCity casino albeit on a less grand scale. The whole SkyCity complex pays homage to the concept of entertainment, with a massive sports bar and concert venues.
The casino has plenty of gambling opportunities but unlike Auckland, this casino places the emphasis on poker with it being the biggest venue for poker within the entirety of the country.
Dunedin Casino, Dunedin
When it comes to the major cities of New Zealand, people tend not to mention Dunedin, however this is a lovely and lively coastal city on the south-eastern coast of New Zealand’s South Island.
Unlike the SkyCity Casinos, this casino is not open 24/7. There is a more relaxed attitude to gambling too, and you can even arrange social gambling sessions with your friends. All the casino classics are available here plus live poker events.
Christchurch Casino, Christchurch
As we’ve previously mentioned pokies are a relatively new concept in New Zealand, and in Christchurch they’ve definitely found a home! This amazing place has over five hundred pokies plus over thirty gaming tables where you can enjoy blackjack and roulette. It also has an incredible noodle restaurant and a sports bar for those will more Western tastes.
One further aspect that sets this place apart from the other resorts – it has an eSports arena! At ‘Got Game’ you’ll find wall-mounted PS4s where you can play eSports titles free of charge!
SkyCity Casino, Queenstown
The final SkyCity casino among resorts can be found in Queenstown, which is a small city which sits on the shore of Lake Wakatipu. This casino has around ninety pokies and gaming tables offering blackjack, roulette, baccarat and stud poker.
This casino is not open 24/7 but it does have longer opening hours at the weekend in comparison to weekdays. It also has a fabulous in-house restaurant and attractive packages designed to make your gambling as pleasurable as possible.
So, there you have it! All you need to know about your potential gambling holiday at New Zealand. Why risk financial ruin in Las Vegas or Macau when you can combine gambling and sight-seeing in New Zealand? Treat yourself, but always remember to gamble responsibly!
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Ari Waknine was born in Brooklyn, New York and was the founder of iGamble Group, an online gaming critique firm that helps players pick online gambling websites that fit their profile, as well as, helping them to increase their winnings. He is also the founder of NewCasinos.org, and is strictly focusing on this project making stronger and better than ever.