For years now, iGaming in New Zealand has been a largely unregulated practice, with spending having increased significantly from NZ$139.3 million in 2014 to NZ$332.6 million at the end of 2020.
Of course, the relatively open nature of the market is just one reason for its continued and exponential growth. In fact, the range of casino games available to players is also compelling, from pokies and video poker to fun iterations of roulettes and blackjack.
We’ll explore some of these verticals below as we create our guide to the best and most popular games available in New Zealand’s iGaming market.
#1. Pokies (or Slot Games)
In more mature markets like the UK and Italy, slots remain the dominant vertical, accounting for up to 70% of the total iGaming gross gaming yield (GGY) in some instances.
Slot games are similarly popular and dominant in New Zealand, although such titles are referred to as ‘pokies’ on these shores. The reason for this is simple, as they remain synonymous with traditional, offline poker machines, which resemble upright fruit machines but are focused on card-based gameplay.
Nowadays, you’ll find hundreds of online pokies at New Zealand’s largest casinos, with this vertical renowned for its diversity and increasingly creative titles. From classic, three-reel pokies with iconic gameplay to themed slots that include Marvel characters like the Incredible Hulk and other Avengers, you’re sure to find a title that suits your tastes in NZ.
As we can see, many contemporary pokies also blur the lines between iGaming and various aspects of pop culture, creating a hook that has encouraged a broader demographic of players into the market and appealed to much younger players in the process.
Pokies are also easy to play and publish their average return-to-player (RTP) rate online, while the full range also offers significant choices in terms of betting limits. This enables you to choose the games that best suit your bankroll, whether you want to play low-limit and low-variance titles or progressive jackpot pokies that pay out seven-figure jackpots.
You can also access pokies at every licensed or pay by phone casino in New Zealand, so you’re not restricted at all in terms of where you’re able to play.
Table games tend to be the next biggest player in terms of the New Zealand iGaming GGY, with his vertical dominated by blackjack and roulette.
We’ll start with blackjack, which is one of the few online casino games that allow for the use of strategy and skill. In this game, you’ll play directly against an online dealer, while the aim is to build a minimum two-card hand that’s higher in value without exceeding 21.
Certainly, your choice of betting and gameplay strategy can have a significant bearing on your success when playing any iteration of blackjack, while having basic numeracy skills is similarly beneficial.
One of the most fascinating aspects of blackjack is its average RTP rate, which is among the most competitive in the iGaming space and often peaks above 99% depending on what iteration you play. Of course, this simultaneously minimises the house edge boasted by operators while it translates into consistently high returns over time.
The key is to identify blackjack versions that use a minimal number of decks while keeping your eyes peeled for those that deploy favourable rules (such as the dealer having to stand on 17).
As for roulette, this is categorised as a ‘game of chance’, which means that while you can deploy negative or progressive betting strategies throughout, you cannot really play strategically or in a way that positively impacts the outcome.
Instead, your objective should be to select the most effective betting strategy based on your bankroll while ensuring that your stake covers as many of the available betting options as possible.
Like pokies and blackjack, roulette is available at virtually every online casino operating in New Zealand, while there are also a huge array of iterations available to players.
You’ll also find a relatively large number of live roulette iterations available online, with titles like ‘Lightning Roulette’ delivering fast and high-octane gameplay alongside accessing betting limits and a wide range of wagering markets.
You can also access online roulette tables with a broad range of betting limits, enabling you to gamble within your means and responsibly at all times!
The average RTP rate for roulette ranges between 94.7% and 97.3% depending on your chosen iteration, making it slightly less rewarding than blackjack.
#4. Video Poker
We’ve already touched on video poker, which used to provide the gameplay for offline pokies in land-based NZ casinos nationwide.
However, there’s now a standalone video poker vertical online, which boasts significant similarities with slots, as you’ll be required to spin reels and reveal different symbols.
However, these games are focused on poker gameplay and require an element of skill, as you can choose to keep or replace designated symbols in the quest to build your optimal hand.
Like most iterations of classic poker, the objective here is to create the most valuable five-card hand possible, with the traditional hand ranking usually employed throughout.
However, a growing number of video poker iterations require a minimum of jacks or better, while others award significant payouts in instances where you build the best possible hand (a royal flush).
We’ll close with Ken, which is an online casino game that bears more than a passing resemblance to national lotteries (or lottos) operated across the globe.
His game features numbered cards, from which players select the exact numbers that they want to use (up to a predetermined maximum). They’ll then have to register their ticket before the game commences, at which point 20 numbers are selected at random (similar to how digits are called during an online bingo game).
You can play Keno through the MyLotto website, while it’s also available at a growing number of online casinos in New Zealand.
Simple, quick and a great deal of fun, Keno is categorised as a game of chance and requires no discernible skill at all. In fact, outcomes are decided entirely by chance and the luck of the draw, with providers using random number generators (RNGs) in the same that they do with other iGaming verticals.