Lessons from Around the World: How New Zealand’s Gambling Industry Can Learn to be Great


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Zoom out and take a snapshot of the New Zealand gambling industry and you’ll see that it’s on the up. Between 2011 and 2019, the amount wagered on horse racing, casino games, and lotteries has increased by just short of 20%. Indeed, according to New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs, total expenditure in 2011/2012 was NZ$2 billion. Fast-forward to 2018/2019 and it was up to NZ$2.4 billion.

Leading the way, as expected, is pokies. Gaming machines not based inside casinos generated NZ$924 million during the latest accounting period. Casinos were second with NZ$616 million in revenue, followed by lotteries (NZ$530 million), and horse racing (NZ$332 million). By all measures, the industry is strong right now. The question is, could it be stronger? If we look at what’s available, consumers definitely have options.

Options Abound Online

As an example, SkyCity Online Casino currently offers hundreds of games from a variety of software suppliers. Alongside digital table games like blackjack and roulette, you’ve got a wealth of slots from the likes of NetEnt, Play’n Go, Cayetano Gaming, and Yggdrasil. In addition to virtual offerings, the site also features live dealer games. Developed by Evolution Gaming, these tables take real dealers and connect them with online players. The end result is a unique live/online mash-up where players get the best of both worlds.

With all of these features in place, SkyCity and its peers have given more people access to gaming. In any industry, access is important. The internet has made it possible for all players to enjoy casino classics via their desktop or mobile. However, moving forward, NZ operators may need to embrace the latest trends. Looking at what the online gaming world at large has to offer, the UK is a great example of what’s possible. From the UK Gambling Commission’s June 2020 report, we know that remote gaming was worth £5.5 billion/NZ$10.5 billion in 2019.

The Key to Success is Synergy

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One thing that British licensees do well is synergy. Today, UK gambling operators will not only combine their online assets into one platform, they’ll link them to their offline products. That’s something we’re also seeing in the US. In both countries, online customers can make deposits to their accounts via a bricks and mortar casino. The same goes for withdrawals. Instead of waiting days for a bank transfer, customers can request a cashout online and then visit an affiliated casino or betting shop. Once they’ve shown some proof of identity, the money is theirs.

In many ways, synergy may be the most important development in gambling over the last two decades. When online operators first started out, they were seen as separate entities to their offline counterparts. Now, everyone is working in unison to make things as accessible as possible. For operators in New Zealand, this should be the next step. Although there is a certain amount of fluidity between verticals, things can be improved. The UK and, to a lesser extent, the US, have got it right in this area. Indeed, with the market growing significantly in both countries, there are clearly lessons to be learned; lessons that can make New Zealand’s gambling industry even stronger than before.

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