Why some countries seem made for Bitcoin gambling

6 October, 2020

Crypto and online gambling work very well together. In fact, cryptocurrency is the perfect alternative payment system for online gamblers who prefer not to use bank transfers, credit cards, and the like.

And yet, Bitcoin gambling is not the same everywhere in the world. In some countries, it is not as accessible as gamblers would like. Other countries seem like they were made for Bitcoin gambling.

Take New Zealand, for example. Its combination of gambling laws, gaming operators, and acceptance of crypto creates the perfect recipe for Bitcoin gambling. Many of the sites targeting Kiwis do so from a Bitcoin angle. It is a fascinating thing to observe.

In this post, we will discuss why some countries seem made for Bitcoin gambling while others appear to struggle with the concept. New Zealand's gambling environment will be the basis for the discussion. What is learned from New Zealand could be applied just about anywhere in the world.

Gambling legality in New Zealand

The first thing to discuss is the legality of gambling in New Zealand. The country has a long history of betting, beginning with Kiwis betting on horse races way back in the 1830s. The first lottery in New Zealand was conducted in the 1870s. However, gambling activities were made illegal for a while following the New Zealand Gambling Act 1908.

More than 100 years later, that piece of legislation is long gone. Nearly all forms of gambling are now legal in New Zealand and are regulated by one of several different government agencies:

  • Gambling Commission
  • Lottery Commission
  • Racing Board
  • Gambling Compliance Group
  • Ministry of Social Development
  • Ministry of Health.

There are a lot of regulatory hands in the pie. Nonetheless, New Zealand classifies different gambling options according to multiple categories. Each category has its own regulations and regulating authorities. The wild card in all of this is online gambling. While it is legal, operating a gambling site in New Zealand is not.

Offshore online gambling

Simply put, gambling operators cannot operate websites on servers located in New Zealand. Kiwis are still legally allowed to gamble online, but only on sites located offshore. This arrangement certainly isn't the best for domestic operators who would otherwise expand their land-based operations to the online world. But one man's loss is another man's gain. The arrangement is great for offshore operators.

This explains why some of the biggest names in online gambling have sites targeting New Zealand players specifically. Some of them have Kiwi landing pages utilizing graphics, cultural references, and language that New Zealanders are familiar with.

As for the gamblers themselves, it is probably a safe bet they don't care where their favorite gambling sites like MegaMoolah.com are located. As long as they have access to pokies, table games, and everything else they want to play, a site could be located anywhere.

Cryptocurrency in New Zealand

Gambling in New Zealand is obviously not a problem. But what about the cryptocurrency half of the equation? Things are equally positive. New Zealand has no rules specifically governing the use of cryptocurrency within its borders. Businesses and individuals are free to do as they choose.

New Zealand's government does not recognize any form of cryptocurrency as legal tender. Rather, they view crypto assets as property no different from houses, cars, and even things you would buy at the department store. That means you pay taxes on any income derived from cryptocurrency trading.

As a payment system, crypto in New Zealand works like any other cash substitute. Merchants willing to accept crypto payments do so just as they would accept credit cards and debit cards. There are plenty of payment processors to support those merchants who decide to transact in crypto. Right now, Bitcoin is the clear leader in day-to-day transactions.

If there is a wrench in the works in New Zealand, it is a lack of banking services. Back in the early days of Bitcoin, New Zealand banks assumed it was a fad that would pass. Like the banking sector in most other countries, the Kiwi banking sector did not put any stock in cryptocurrency. They provided no banking services to businesses or individuals interested in it.

Things began to change a few years ago. Banking services for crypto businesses are still pretty scarce in New Zealand, but retail banks are offering services to individual customers. In short, it is getting easier to buy and sell crypto among individual consumers using their retail bank accounts.

How it affects gambling

A relaxed crypto environment in New Zealand encourages people to actually use it as an alternative payment system. Kiwis can just as easily deposit BTC at an online casino as use their coins to buy coffee at the neighborhood coffee shop. Topping it all off is the fact that consumers themselves are incredibly open to the crypto concept.

This presents an abnormally high interest in Bitcoin gambling compared to other countries. If you have noticed that online gambling sites targeting Kiwis tend to offer cryptocurrency deposits more often than not, you now know why. People in New Zealand are just very open to the idea of using BTC or some other crypto to make payments.

The lack of banking services for merchants is not a problem in this regard because online operators are not located in New Zealand anyway. They work with payment processors wherever they are located, handling everything completely offshore. None of it affects the player, especially since online gamblers can freely obtain cryptocurrency on New Zealand exchanges prior to beginning a gambling session.

It all works together

Now, let us step back and look at New Zealand's online gambling picture from a broader view. That broader view shows how everything works together to make Bitcoin gambling rather attractive there. What can we see from this broader view? A few key things:

  • Limited Regulation - Government regulation influences gambling regardless of platform or venue. Where regulation is limited, like in New Zealand, operators have opportunities to meet the needs of their customers in a variety of ways.
  • Online Operators - Even though online operators cannot be located in New Zealand the government does not ban online gambling operators. Gamblers do not have to access gambling sites using VPNs or other security measures to cover their tracks.
  • Crypto Acceptance - A generally favorable view of cryptocurrency among both government and consumers alike encourages the use of BTC, LTC, ETH, etc. In turn, this makes cryptocurrency payments more attractive to operators.
  • Banking Services - Offering crypto banking services to consumers is a big deal. Banking services encourage Kiwis to use cryptocurrency just as they would any other payment system.

Just these four things alone have a huge impact on whether or not citizens of a given country gamble online via cryptocurrency deposits. Take the U.S., for example. Both consumers and merchants can transact crypto business among themselves to their heart's content. U.S. law considers crypto an asset that people are free to trade as they see fit.

On the other hand, gambling is heavily restricted in the States. U.S. gamblers have limited access to online gambling sites without having to use VPNs. Making matters worse is the total lack of banking services for all things crypto. This mixed bag of circumstances prevents the U.S. from being as open to Bitcoin gambling as New Zealand.

Restricting both in some countries

If New Zealand is an example of a country with a very liberal view of both cryptocurrency and gambling, it is fair to say that the U.S. is, by comparison, more conservative. That would make a country like China the extreme in the other direction. In China, nearly all forms of gambling are illegal. The Chinese government is also just starting to crack down on cryptocurrency payments in order to keep money from leaving the country.

There are many other places in the world that restrict gambling, cryptocurrency, or both. Actions are sometimes related to perceptions of morality and ethics. Other times the restrictions are based in politics or financial concerns. The reason themselves are of little concern to people who want access to cryptocurrencies as forms of payment.

New Zealand is a shining example of how both crypto and online gambling can exist in a cohesive environment. Kiwi gamblers have access to everything from horse races to lotteries and casino gaming opportunities. They can gamble both at land-based venues and online. And they can choose a wide variety of payment options covering everything from cryptocurrency to plastic cards.

The country hasn't fallen apart because of its friendly stance toward gambling. Its economy has not been wiped out by problem gamblers unable to control themselves in the online environment. New Zealand's mix of common sense regulation and consumer freedom have created the perfect environment in which both online gambling and cryptocurrency can flourish. That is why things work so well.

Other nations looking for an example to follow would do well to look at what they are doing in New Zealand. In the meantime, operators are not shy about setting up sites to compete for the Kiwi market. And as they do, many are embracing cryptocurrency payments as well. They are finding that New Zealand is the perfect environment for combining the two.