The New Zealand Gambling Act of 2003 lays the prohibition straight out: “gambling by a person at a distance by interaction through a communication device.” That is hard to interpret any other way than any hand of online blackjack is likely to put the player in legal jeopardy. Fines for individuals top out at $10,000. But as long as the communication devices are connected anywhere but New Zealand online Kiwi players can gamble with impunity.
Which certainly saves enforcement officials quite a bit of time.
The New Zealand Company sent its first ship of surveyors to buy land from the native Maori in 1835. That was also the year the first race meet was held in the islands. By the time New Zealand became a separate colony six years later gambling on cards, athletic contests and especially horses was a way of life.
Protestant churches made some headway in cracking the ingrained culture of gambling in New Zealand but in 1913 it was George Julius, the son of an Anglican archbishop, who gave the world its first mechanical totalisator, or tote board for racing and sports betting. The totalisator was christened at Ellerslie Racecourse in New Zealand – on Easter Sunday. Julius would wind up being knighted in Australia, ostensibly for his contribution to technology but his part in advancing the cause of horse racing and betting most certainly did not go unnoticed.
Today only about 11 percent of all New Zealanders self-report not being an active gambler. The average Kiwi spends some $500 each year betting which makes gambling a $2 billion industry in a country with a population roughly equivalent to the state of Louisiana. One of your safest bets is that surely in the Internet age online casino operators are going to find a way to attract Kiwi punters.
So, gambling online in New Zealand is legal, no one has ever been charged with a crime for patronizing an online casino in New Zealand and winnings are not taxed but there are no Kiwi operators. What next?
Start by locating the online blackjack tables where you can easily convert New Zealand dollars into chips. The best place to find houses that offer a wide range of deposit options for Kiwi currency is across the Tasman Sea in Australia. There are not many and one of the most trusted online live casinos that freely exchange New Zealand dollars is Spin Palace, where Kiwi blackjack players can earn a 1000 NZ$ bonus for sustained patronage.
Lacking straight acceptance of New Zealand dollars the next hurdle is to find online houses that make reliable currency exchanges easily. One place to start are those multi-national operations that have written a few lines of code that alter their sites to cater specifically to the New Zealand twenty-one player. These houses that have demonstrated the willingness to actively pursue Kiwi business can also be expected to deliver more English-speaking dealers and an easier experience with customer service.
Considerations such as facility of currency conversion, deposits and withdrawals and customer service are critical factors for New Zealanders when choosing a live blackjack table. That is because there are not a wide variety of twenty-one games being dealt by streaming live dealers.
In New Zealand the rules of blackjack are dictated by the government. They generally adhere to versions popular in America and Europe with a few peculiarities. Hands are dealt from shoes of six decks; blackjack pays 3 to 2 and there is no surrender option. The dealer stands on all 17s. Players can double down only on hard hands (no aces). All that is routine. What is not commonly seen at casino blackjack tables but encountered at New Zealand tables is players doubling the bet after splitting cards and re-splitting to three hands, although aces may not be re-split.
To help neutralize the player advantage from the liberal splitting rules New Zealand blackjack employs an Original and Busted Bets Only (OBBO) rule. To make this happen Kiwi dealers receive only one card, no hole card. After all doubling and splitting wagers are made the dealer then draws the second card and if it results in a blackjack all bets are lost. New Zealand casino goers are also familiar with side bets such as Any Pairs. If this bet is taken it pays posted odds at the table for any pair dealt on the first two cards.
Betting after the original split and the OBBO rule are familiar variants that New Zealand players will not expect to encounter when playing online live blackjack. Another common Kiwi variation not likely to be found at online live dealer tables is Blackjack Plus. In this game the player wins automatically with the following hands regardless of a dealer blackjack: Five-card Charlie (when five cards are drawn without busting over 21) and any 21-point hand, blackjack or otherwise.
What does the player give up in Blackjack Plus to pay for these house concessions? First, blackjacks pay only even money, like all wagers. Second, dealer busts resulting in a total of 22 become a push rather than a win for the player. The house edge thus moves from around .50% in classic blackjack to over 6% in the Blackjack Plus variant. If New Zealand blackjack players are used to this game at home they will be pleasantly surprised at the larger returns waiting in live online card rooms.
Another welcome surprise for Kiwi punters will be the generous welcome bonuses live dealer blackjack players can earn for sustained play. Players can also find tables with varying minimum and maximum bets in far greater supply than the cards rooms at SKYCITY, the Wharf Casino, Dunedin Casino or the other indigenous New Zealand casinos.
If New Zealanders are looking to play blackjack with live Kiwi dealers the choices are limited to the island’s six land-based casinos but if players are willing to go through the currency conversions and make a few concessions to non-New Zealand based casinos Kiwi card players can enjoy the same live dealer online experience as players from around the world.