Last updated on January 13th, 2023

The Best Guide To Online Lottery in New Zealand

Quick navigation: ToplistNew Zealand’s Lottery History | Current New Zealand Lottery Law | New Zealand buyers to Know | New Zealand sellers to Know | New Zealand Winners To Know | Summary

New Zealand is a small island country down south with beautiful weather, largely uncrowded cities and surrounded by water. The islands of New Zealand are known for their distinctive biodiversity, wildlife, and breathtaking landmasses. It was one of the last pieces of land to be occupied by humankind. Despite this, the country has grown incredibly. It has a rich history and has gone through the First World War, the Second World War, and the Great Depression. After this, the country formed its governments – a constitutional monarchy, making Elizabeth II, the queen of New Zealand.

In this article, we discuss the journey and history of the lotteries in New Zealand. The lottery is New Zealand is young and relatively new. Since its establishment, the lotteries have seen incredible growth and gained popularity among the New Zealanders. We begin by discussing the history of the lotteries in New Zealand. The first ever lotto sale in the country happened in the year 1987. This was soon after the establishment of the New Zealand lottery Commission. After seeing the success of the first lotto, the New Zealand Lottery Commission established many lottery games. The current lotto offers players the opportunity to take home NZ $1 million.

After a quick look at the history, we jump into understanding the legalities, laws, rules, and regulations of the lotteries in New Zealand. The article explains the provisions stated under the New Zealand Gambling Act of 2003 and the New Zealand Lotteries Act. The functions and duties of the New Zealand Lotteries Commission and the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board are discussed. While the former helps with the overall supervision and operations of the lotteries in the country, the latter helps decide how the proceeds of the lottery will be used to benefit the communities in New Zealand.
For the players, there is information about the different kinds of ways they can participate in the lotteries and where the tickets can be purchased. All payment and purchase details are discussed. For the operators, there are details of the procedures and lottery games that require an authorized license. For example, not all lottery games need a license. A license is required if the prize value crosses a certain amount. More details on this can be found in this article. And for the winners of the lotteries, information with regard to the claiming process for the process, verification process, expiration details on lottery tickets and other required information is shared.

A unique aspect of the New Zealand lotteries is the clear information made available to the public on the various ways in which the profits earned by the lotteries is used. The law states that all of the proceeds must be used for projects that help build communities. Details on the various projects the board chooses to invest in are also shared in this article.

Although a new member among countries that have been operating lotteries for decades, the New Zealand lottery is a fun lottery to look forward to.

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New Zealand is a small island country down south with beautiful weather, largely uncrowded cities and surrounded by water. The islands of New Zealand are known for their distinctive biodiversity, wildlife, and breathtaking landmasses. It was one of the last pieces of land to be occupied by humankind. Despite this, the country has grown incredibly. It has a rich history and has gone through the First World War, the Second World War, and the Great Depression. After this, the country formed its governments – a constitutional monarchy, making Elizabeth II, the queen of New Zealand.

Lotteries have helped build many nations. New Zealand is no different. The lottery is New Zealand is fairly young. But since its establishment, the lotteries have done much more than entertain people with the games. The profits from the lotteries in New Zealand go to clearly defined and specific contributions. New Zealanders are encouraged to play the lotteries because it contributes to good causes. The updates of where the profits are being spent can be found on the official lotto website at all times. In this article, we dive into what the lotteries in New Zealand look like and answer the many questions that players will have about being part of the New Zealand lotteries.

The history of lottery in New Zealand

The very first lotto tickets in New Zealand were sold in the 1986 – more specifically, 22nd July 1987. This establishment of the New Zealand lotto was approved by the New Zealand Cabinet on February 1986 with the required majority vote in the Parliament. The official Lotto of the country was established soon after in June 1987. The first game to have launched under the lotto was the Golden Kiwi lottery that had operated at the time under the Lottery Commission’s supervision. The first draw for this was held on the 1st of August 1987. The jackpot winner for this lottery at the time took home $359, 808. After the evident success of the Golder Kiwi Lottery, the lotteries expanded in New Zealand. More interesting games were introduced over time. The Kiwi scratch cards were introduced in the year 1989. This scratch card game replaced the Golden Kiwi Lottery. The Lotto Strike was then introduced in the year 1993 and the Keno lottery in 1994. In the year 1998, there were ‘Extra Draws’ made on selected occasions. The Powerball was introduced to the country in 2001, the Big Wednesday lotto in the year 2005, Bullseye in the 2009 and finally, Play 3 in the year 2014 and the Instant Play lotto game in the year 2017. The Lotto games of New Zealand had been in used in two game shows. These were known as ‘Telebingo’ and ‘Risk’.

The current lotteries in New Zealand; also known as the Lotto New Zealand, is overseen and operated by the New Zealand Lotteries Commission. The New Zealand Lotteries Commission is an entity of the Crown and operates all across the island nation. This commission was officially established in the same year the first lotto went on sale – in the year 1987. It was legally established under the Gambling Act of 2003.

The most popular lotto in New Zealand (and also the oldest one) is the bi-weekly lotto draw that gives away a large prize of NZ$1 million. Some of the other popular games include the four-draws-daily Keno, Bullseye – a daily draw game, Play 3 – a daily draw game and a range of scratch card based games that go by the name Instant Kiwi and Instant play. As stated, one of the key recognizable attributes of the New Zealand lotteries is its contribution to the good causes. All publicly regulated lotteries send their profits to the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board. This Board plays the role of distributing the funds to various sectors that need state funding; such as recreation, arts, sports, and other community projects. From the time of its inception, the Lotteries in New Zealand have contributed over $4 billion to the Lottery Grants Board. Some of the big recipients of the lottery profits include the New Zealand Film Commission, Creative New Zealand, and Sports New Zealand.

The legalities of the New Zealand Lotteries

Understanding the legalities around the lotteries in New Zealand begins with understanding the details of the Gambling Act of 2003. Although this act largely looked at all gambling activities, it also applies to all lottery activities in the nation. As of 2003, all the lotteries in New Zealand are governed by the country’s Gambling Act. Until the gambling act was established, the New Zealand Lotteries Commission had complete and full control over the lotteries. Post the establishment of the Act, the regulations stated in the Gambling Act also applies to the New Zealand Lottery Commission.

The Gambling Act of 2003 was established with the following purposes – “ (a) Control the growth of gambling; and (b) prevent and minimise harm from gambling; and including problem gambling; and (c) authorise some gambling and prohibit the rest; and (d) Facilitate responsible gambling; and (e) ensure the integrity and fairness of games; and (f) limit opportunities for crime or dishonesty associated with gambling and the conduct of gambling; and (g) ensure that money from gambling benefits the community; and (h) facilitate community involvement in decisions about the provision of gambling.” The act states that lotteries and gambling ventures can only be run under purposes authorized by the Act. These authorized purposed include – charity purposes, non-commercial purposes (it has to be proven beneficial for an entire or part of a community), to promote, control and conduct meetings under the Racing Act 2003(the legal Act that governs the racing industry in New Zealand), controlling and regulating payment of stakes, and finally for election purposes.

All gambling activities are strictly regulated under the Gambling Act. To meet the goal of reducing gambling in the country, the act stated that no new gambling licenses would be granted as of the establishment of the gambling act. The only gambling venues that exist at present in New Zealand are gambling places that existed before the establishment of the Act, ventures that comply with all the necessary requirements of the holding a license according as per the Act, ventures that have been authorized under the New Zealand Racing Act of 2003, and private gambling ventures that complies with all the necessities as per the gambling act. The Act allowed and still allows, renewing of licenses for gambling ventures that existed before 2003. Bookmaking and ‘remote interactive gambling’ are strictly prohibited under the act and are considered to be illegal ventures. No individual or entity is allowed is allowed to promote or advertise any overseas gambling ventures in any manner. Advertisements are allowed only if they concern with a health message about gambling and raise awareness of gambling and lottery addictions. Any person or entity who will not comply with the rule will be fined $10,000.

The New Zealand Lotteries Commission

The New Zealand Lotteries Commission was officially established under the Gambling and Lotteries Act of 1977 (section 72, for reference). The commission is still governed under the Act. The Lotteries Commission of New Zealand is an entity of the crown and therefore, is also governed by the Crown Entities Act of 2004. This act applies to all the aspects of the lotteries commission. The Lotteries Commission was established with an aim to control and regulate the New Zealand Lotteries. The New Zealand Lotteries Commission has nine members from different sectors who help in the operations of the commission. They are supervised by a manager and the minister of the internal affairs.

The Act states that the functions of the Lotteries commission are – “(a) to promote, organise, and conduct New Zealand lotteries for the purpose of generating profits for distribution by the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board, or for a community purpose for which a special purpose lottery is promoted under section 245 (b) to maximise profits so generated, subject to ensuring that the risk of problem gambling and underage gambling is minimized (c) to make rules regulating the conduct and operation of New Zealand lotteries in accordance with section 243 (d) to advise the Minister on matters relating to New Zealand lotteries.”

The Lottery Commission has the authority to devise rules and regulations for the lotteries being operated in New Zealand. The commission also has the authority to devise some rules that may not be completely consistent with the Gambling Act. Examples of these include topics such as establishment and distribution of prize funds of the New Zealand lotteries. Another instance would be that the lotteries commission has the authority to decide on additional prizes that can be distributed to prize winners of the New Zealand lotteries. The commission may also choose to determine prize winners based on select criteria that will benefit a community. However, these rules cannot be passed without the approval of the Minister and can only take effect post-approval and post the notification of the changed rule in the official Gazette.

Any rule that is made with regard to matters on which the lottery commission has complete jurisdiction and discretion is usually not challenged by the minister. This means that in most cases, the lottery commission has the final word as long as the rules comply with Act and is not harmful to any community of people – i.e. has an aim of minimizing the risk to players including reducing the risk of under-age lottery participation. Similarly, the minister also has certain authority over the lotteries commission and has the authority to direct the commission to incorporate rules and regulations as seen fit. The minister also has the authority to ask the lotteries commission to promote and advertise the New Zealand lottery for a particular cause that the minister thinks will benefit the community.

Official result: The lottery commission must follow a thorough check after each of the lotteries draws in New Zealand. The commission must verify the result of the lotteries and this result must be agreed by the commission, the lottery department and the auditor-general of the state. This draw will them be displayed as the official result on various platforms. Only legally authorized broadcasting platforms to have the right to display the winning draws. Any person or entity sharing or displaying the lottery results illegally with be charged with a fine of NZ $200.

Finally, the lotteries commission is required to maintain an account where the proceeds from the sale of lottery tickets are saved. This money is invested, if not saved in the trust funds authorized under the Act. Any and all interests that have been accrued if the funds have been invested will also be saved into the account where the lottery sale proceeds are saved. This sum may be retrieved by the funds’ distribution board at any time.

The New Zealand Lottery Grants Board: The New Zealand Lottery Grants Board was officially established under the Lotteries Act of 1977 under the section 116A. The board consists of a minister who presides over the members of the board, the prime minister, a member from the House of Representatives who is the leader of the opposition party, 3 people with knowledge, skill, and experience in handling the functions of the board who have been appointed by the governor-general. The board was established with the aim to appoint a group of representatives who will determine the proportions in which the profits from the New Zealand lotteries will be allocated in the country. The profits distributed must contribute to the building of strong and sustainable communities. The contributions made from the lotteries and the projects that have been built/are underway can be found on the official New Zealand lotto website. The board has the following set of functions according to the Lottery Act in ensuring the building of sustainable communities – “the board must enable and promote (a) community self-reliance, capacity building, and stability; or (b) opportunities for social, recreational, civil, or cultural participation and reducing or overcoming barriers to such participation; or (c) community and environmental health; or (d) development and preservation of New Zealand’s arts, culture, heritage, and national identity; or (e) sports and recreation.”

For the buyers to know

The age limit

Instant Kiwi and Instant Play may only be played by persons 18 years of age or older, under the Gambling Act 2003. Powerball and Lotto Strike are optional extras with every Lotto ticket.

The lottery proceeds

The New Zealand lottery commission will fix specific intervals upon which the proceeds from the sale of lottery tickets must be paid by every lottery agent. The agents have the right to deduct any sum of money from the profits of the lotteries as long as it is within the limit authorized by the lotteries commission.

Lottery draws

All lottery draws will be done in the allocated place and in the manner as authorized by the lotteries commission. The minister also has the authority to suggest method and manner of drawing the lotteries. All lottery sale agents must comply with this, else, the sale of lotteries will not be considered to be legally viable. To begin with, the act states that although the lottery commission has the right to decide the place of the draw, it must be open to the public. Every New Zealand lottery must not only be open to the public but, the exact time, place and date and channel (if it is a TV broadcast) of the draw must be announced accurately. This announcement may be made in any manner the commission sees fit. The commission may grant permission for agents (and public committees) to hold private lotteries if the said lottery benefits the whole or part of a community in some way.

All lottery draws are meticulously overseen by the secretary and the auditor-general. They ensure that the lottery operations have the proper equipment, process, and structural procedures to conduct the draws. They also oversee the accuracy of the draws and also ensure that sale agents regularly transfer the required funds to charity.

Methods of playing the lotteries

  • Subscriptions – Players and participants can subscribe to participate in their favorite lotto – Powerball and Strike tickets. The subscriptions periods offered are 3 months, 6 months and 23 months. Subscriptions help ensure that players do not miss out on opportunities of play, allows pay-as-you-go and above all is quick and easy to set up.
  • Text Services – These services, once signed up for, sends players reminders of the draw days of the Powerball jackpot at the level of player’s choice. The text service also allows players to purchase lottery tickets via the SMS just by replying to ‘YES’ in a text message.
  • New Zealand Lotto App – Players can download the New Zealand lotto mobile application to be able to play lotto anywhere, anytime. The app enables players to purchase lotto and keno tickets, participate in instant play games, check the status of their tickets, scan paper tickets and check if the player is a winner and much more. All the players have to do is set up a Lotto subscription via the App and ‘top up’ on the App as needed.
  • Team Play – These are what is referred to as lottery syndicates. This method of playing brings in a fun sense of community while increasing the odds of winning. A lottery syndicate is essentially when a group of people; family, friends or colleagues form a group, purchase tickets to together and split the winnings among the members of the group.

How to play (online and on-site games)

  • Playing online – Players can use lottery websites to help play the New Zealand lottery games online. The New Zealand lottery games are simple and therefore, make for easy online participation. Players can get started once they register an account on a website.
  • Playing on-site – There are more than 1, 400 lottery stores in New Zealand. Lottery companies cover every nook and cranny of the island nation. Players can purchase the lottery tickets directly. The games have been made available for players as a ‘checkout’ facility at selected stores across the country.
  • Playing on the App – And of course, players have the option of downloading the mobile app for the New Zealand lotto. It should be noted that these apps are again specific to the lottery operator, and not government run applications. Players can use the mobile app to keep a tab on their tickets and check if they have won.

Payment for the lottery tickets

The cost of playing New Zealand is NZ$0.70 per line of the table. Players will have to play a minimum of 4 lines. This makes the cheapest ticket cost for participating in the New Zealand lotto NZ$2.80. Different games may have varying prices. Players will have to check the ticket prices before investing the lottery game tickets. Players can pay for the lottery tickets by cash and card. Online debit and credit card payments are available. However, the accepted methods of payments have left the discretion of the operators. Therefore, players should check with their lottery operators on the payment process and available modes of payments.

For Sellers to know

The lottery prize fund

All lottery agents are required to transfer the proceeds from the lottery to the lottery prize fund. The lottery commission and the lottery funds board will use this money as they see fit. The money kept in the lottery prize fund is used first and foremost to pay the winners of the lotteries in New Zealand. Then, with the surplus, the lotteries commission has the authority to save the funds via investments with the approval from the minister.

Lottery rules for operators

All the operators of the lotteries in New Zealand must comply with all the rules and regulations of the Lottery Act and the Gambling Act. All raffles and sweepstakes are considered to be part of the lottery games. Lottery operators will not require any licensing if the total value of the prizes – inclusive of the retail value of all cash and non-cash prizes, is less than $5, 000 and the turnover value is less than $25, 000. If the total value of the prizes is more than $5, 000, the group or committee or individual will have to obtain a lottery license.

Lottery operators should note that only specific items can be issued as non-cash prizes. Second-hand goods and non-residential land can be offered as prizes. Whereas, according to the lottery laws in New Zealand, it is illegal to offer these as lottery prizes – A firearm, explosive (including ammunition), restricted weapon, or airgun, liquor, tobacco products, a taonga tuturu (this is an object that is over 50 years old and relates to Māori culture, history or society, and was manufactured, modified, used, or brought into New Zealand by Māori), vouchers or entitlements to commercial sexual services, vouchers or entitlements to any of the other property listed above.

Getting a lottery license

The first thing for lottery operators to know is that in order to obtain a license, the gambling act has divided the gambling activities in New Zealand into various ‘classes of gambling’. Based on the specification of the games, the license will be issued accordingly. As mentioned, if the value of all the prizes (retail value of all non-cashes prizes included) in any of the lottery games exceeds $5, 000; the lottery must be conducted by a society and relevant forms will have to be filled out by the operator in order to obtain the lottery license. There are few exceptions to this rule. The exception of ‘housie’ – a class 3 gambling license is issued to operators as a one-time only exception for specific lotteries. Every subsequent activity other than this will require a separate license. A housie license is only granted to corporate societies. A housie license is valid for one year only. It can be renewed at the end of 12 months.

For Winners to know

Claiming lottery prizes

Lottery prizes must be claimed by the winners within 12 months of the date of the final sale of lottery tickets. Any claim post the 12 month period will not be recognized and the prize money will be treated as an unclaimed prize. All lottery prize winners are required to submit evidence of their entitlement to the lottery prize. This would be the lottery tickets that have been purchased and signed at the back by the players immediately after the purchase. The lotteries commission or the authorized selling agent must be satisfied with the claim of the winner in order for them to pay the winner the money from the prize fund for the lottery. Therefore, all winners should keep in mind that any mistake or misidentification will lead to the lottery ticket being considered null and void. In case the lotteries commission is not convinced and satisfied that the claiming person is entitled to the lottery prize, the winning money will be retained in the prize fund until further questioning and clarifications. Based on the clarifications the lotteries commission will transfer the prize to the winner (if entitlement if proved) or choose to treat this prize money as an unclaimed prize (if entitlement is not proved).

Winners of the lotteries in New Zealand have to go through the entire checking process before getting the prize money. The process of claim is easier for lower prizes. Please note, the process discussed here is for the New Zealand lotto. Winners who have won lottery prizes of more than $1, 000 can claim this money at any of the on-site lottery outlets. They can also claim it at the lotto headquarters in Auckland. While claiming the prize, winners will be asked to fill out a prize claim form that has information about the bank details of the winner. If there is a mistake in the details shared via the prize claim form, the winning amount will not be transferred. If players have an online account, they will automatically get an update stating they are the winner and will prompt the winner to fill out the prize claim form online. The Lotto New Zealand is required to keep with them all the winning tickets. Therefore, if players would like a copy of their winning ticket, they will have to request for a copy before the submission of the prize claim form.

Interest from the Lottery Commission on lottery prizes

Winners are not entitled to payment of interest on the prize won in the New Zealand lotteries. However, the lotteries commission may be required to pay interest if it questions the entitlement of the prize and holds back the payment of the lottery prize without any reasonable grounds. The lottery commission is also exempt from the payment of any taxes.

Treatment of unclaimed prizes

The lotteries commission will play the winners their prizes from the money saved in the lottery prize pool. Winners are required to claim these lotteries within specified time periods – All the lottery prizes that have not been claimed within 12 months of the date of the final sale of lottery tickets are considered to the unclaimed prizes. If the lottery prizes or instant games prizes are not claimed and there is no entitlement to the money within this 12 month period, the unclaimed amount will be retained as part of the lottery prize fund account by the lotteries commission. This prize pool will be used for the distribution of lottery prizes for the future lotteries. The countdown for the 12-month expiration begins on the last day of the sale of the lottery tickets for a particular game or the date in which the lotteries commission makes provisions to cancel the unsold tickets, whichever is later. In case of any additional prizes being distributed by the lottery, the 12-month expiration countdown begins on the date in which the additional prizes have been determined and winners are announced.

In the scenario where specific lotteries are not able to save money on the lottery prize pool account or the lotteries commission does not have any directions on how the unclaimed prizes must be treated by the specific lottery agent, the secretary will write to the lottery agent asking the money to be transferred to a bank account as the secretary sees fit. This unclaimed money is then treated as undistributed profits from the proceeds of the lottery games.

Tax Implication

New Zealand lottery law does not require winners to pay taxes on the lottery prizes. However, international players should note that they may have to pay lottery taxes according to their country’s lottery laws. Winners should also note that, although; there is no tax to be paid of the winning ‘lump sum’, they will have to pay interest on the ‘money earned’ once it is in their bank account. The prize money will be treated as taxable income.


Although late to jump on the lottery train, the New Zealand lotteries have gained great popularity since the establishment. The clear and specific details of the positive contributions of the lotteries towards the public, state and charitable causes of New Zealand makes it an interesting and a ‘must participate’ lottery game both nationally and internationally.