How We Rate Casinos

Noah Adams

At CasinoCrawlers, we have quite a number of criteria we use when rating online casino sites. After all, the number of online casinos in the New Zealand market is vast, and they vary in quality. That’s why we have a rigorous checklist of main features which we use to make accurate comparisons and assessments.

This checklist assists us in determining the best online casinos in New Zealand and those just coming up. Let’s look at all 11 review criteria in how we rate casinos…

Gambling Licenses

The vast majority of top online casinos in New Zealand choose to hold a license from the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA). And that’s good news for Kiwis because the MGA license ensures that NZ casinos do things by the book. In turn, there are a raft of benefits for players, as the MGA license provides various protections and safeguards.

The other two licenses that New Zealanders will see regularly are the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Government of Curaçao. However, the UKGC license is only valid in the UK and does not specifically cover other territories like New Zealand. And the Curaçao eGaming license is not as robust as the one from the MGA – though it has improved a lot in recent years.

We always check that the real money online casinos we review hold at least one of these licenses. We also ensure that the license is properly registered, validated and up-to-date. And if we find any discrepancies or suspicious activity, we simply don’t recommend playing at those sites. All our recommended online casino sites are licensed.

We will mainly cover the benefits and downsides of the MGA license in this section. This is especially important because New Zealand is considered a grey area territory. Online casinos cannot be based in New Zealand as per the Gambling Act 2003 but it is perfectly legal for New Zealanders to play at offshore casinos online.

What does the MGA license ensure?

The MGA license is known around the world for its strict regulations and restrictions on real money online casino sites. This helps protect players at MGA-licensed casinos in several ways. It’s one of the reasons why we recommend several MGA casinos as contenders for the crown of the best site in NZ.

But what exactly does the MGA license ensure in terms of player protection? Well, aside from regulating online casinos, poker rooms and sportsbook sites, there are several different areas in which players benefit from playing at an MGA-licensed casino in New Zealand. Let’s cover all of those now…

Technological Requirements

There are a whole host of technological requirements that online casinos must satisfy to obtain and keep their MGA license. For example, here’s a quote from the “Technical Infrastructure Hosting Gaming and Control Systems – Remote Gaming” document supplied by the Malta Gaming Authority:

“Licensees/applicants are required to provide details of the technical Infrastructure, including a network schematic, showing all the hardware and virtual machines in operation with the respective internal IP addresses, including all the geographic locations and addresses of premises where the technical infrastructure hosting gaming systems, control systems and regulatory data will be located.”

Furthermore, critical infrastructure must be located in Malta, in the EU or in a jurisdiction that the MGA has approved for being up to the standards held within Malta itself. This ensures that an online casino in New Zealand can be fully audited by the MGA and third-party testing organisations like eCOGRA or iTech Labs.

Bonuses & Terms

The MGA license is not as strict on advertising promotions and bonuses as, say, the UKGC. However, there are some principles stated on this matter in the MGA FAQs. Here’s an overview of those rules…

All advertising for casinos and their bonuses must NOT:

Data & GDPR

Being based in the European Union (EU), the MGA ensures that all licensees comply with data protection laws and GDPR. Essentially, this ensures that, while data may be collected for legitimate purposes, such as enabling you to open a player account and log in, etc, there are rules for its storage and usage. For example, MGA-licensed casinos must encrypt data and store it on separate servers with additional safety and security protocols. The same is true of a player’s financial details.

Reporting & Supervision

To ensure that each gambling site with an MGA license is following the rules, regular and ad-hoc Compliance Audits are conducted. These compliance checks are overseen by MGA professionals with the appropriate qualifications or those of third parties such as the aforementioned eCOGRA.

Furthermore, to help protect against money laundering and the funding of terrorist organisations, each MGA-licensed casino is required to appoint a Money Laundering Reporting Officer (MLRO). This senior official is responsible for analysing and reporting any unusual or suspicious financial transactions.

Responsible Gambling Under the MGA License

We take responsible gambling very seriously whenever playing at and reviewing an NZ gambling site. And while many responsible gambling initiatives are voluntary, the vast majority of MGA-approved casinos do put in place a robust package of tools and guidelines to prevent gambling addiction.

The MGA itself also has a range of advice, tools and additional support for those who suspect they have a gambling problem. You can read more on Safer Gambling within the Player Hub on the MGA website.

Taxation of Winnings

Online gambling sites in Malta are not required to collect tax on winnings. However, some countries in the EU do tax their citizens on gambling winnings. But that does not apply to New Zealanders playing at offshore sites based in Malta, the UK or Curaçao. Anything you win in NZ is yours to keep! Nice.

More Information About MGA Licenses

The Malta Gaming Authority replaced the Lotteries and Gaming Authority in 2001. This coincided with the significantly modernised laws as stated in the Lotteries and Other Games Act, 2001. To find out more about the work of the MGA, you can reach out to the organisation directly via the following means:

To find out more about the benefits of the MGA license and others, check out our guide to casino licenses.

Other NZ Online Casino Licenses

License Authority Country
Maltese License Malta Gaming Authority Malta
UK License UK Gambling Authority United Kingdom
Curaçao License Curaçao Gaming Control Board Curaçao

Casino Bonuses

After verifying a casino’s license, we take a detailed look at the bonuses. This includes claiming any no-deposit bonuses, followed by the welcome bonus and free spins when making our first deposit. Plus, we definitely check the value of free spins, as these can vary from a few cents up to NZ$1 or NZ$2 per spin – the latter is obviously better for the player. From there, we check out what bonuses existing players can get. Not only that but we’re specifically comparing casino bonuses to assess what score the casino will get.

When it comes to welcome bonuses, we prefer offers that give players many bites of the cherry. By that, we mean that there are plenty of free spins for a top online pokie, as well as a cash bonus upon first deposit. If this extends to several deposit bonuses in a row, all the better. Then, it’s a matter of comparing the total amount possible and the percentages of the match deposit bonuses offered.

The higher the percentage being offered, the better. A 200% match deposit bonus worth up to NZ$100 is clearly superior to one offering a 50% match deposit bonus up to NZ$100. When maxing out the offer, the former would give the player playing funds of NZ$150 (NZ$50 deposit plus NZ$100 in bonus funds). Whereas, the latter would give playing funds of NZ$300 but this requires a much higher deposit of NZ$200, with the total bonus funds only equaling NZ$100. That’s why we pay close attention to each offer.

Last but not least, we dive into the details given in the bonus terms and conditions…

Bonus Terms and General T&Cs

The next step in comparing online casinos in New Zealand is to assess the terms and conditions. And we don’t just mean the T&Cs attached to top casino bonus offers. We also mean the general terms and conditions for the entire site, as this can affect the entire playing experience.

Only by judging all these things together can we tell if a real money online casino is being fair to its players – or whether the legal team have attempted to tie players in knots. That’s why we not only award higher ratings to online casinos that offer fair T&Cs but also communicate them in plain English.

On the flip side, whenever we see almost impenetrable legalese used, we suspect that the terms are likely to be unfair. After all, we aren’t interested in gotchas at the time of trying to withdraw our winnings. So, let’s take a look at the most significant terms and conditions…

Wagering Requirements

First up, we have wagering requirements. These are likely to be attached to the majority of bonuses offered by even the best online casinos in NZ. But what exactly are wagering requirements?

The easiest way to explain them is to use an example. Let’s say you’ve taken a NZ$100 bonus with below-average (meaning good) wagering requirements of just 30x. If the T&Cs state that a player must wager that NZ$100 bonus 30 times, then you must playthrough a not-insignificant NZ$30,000.

That sounds like an insane figure for a bonus that’s only worth NZ$100 in the first place. However, wagering doesn’t mean throwing your money down the drain. Instead, it literally means to wager on the included games. And as we all know, you can just as easily win or lose anytime you make a wager.

The important thing here, then, is the overall amount that must be wagered within a given timeframe. The higher the amount, the more of a grind it will be to complete the wagering. Whereas, lower wagering requirements are much easier to satisfy. So, 30x wagering is much better than 50x!

One last thing to mention. Most wagering requirements are only applied to the bonus amount received. Some cheeky casinos apply wagering requirements to both the bonus amount and the deposit amount. So, if you claim a 100% up to NZ$100 bonus, your wagering requirements are effectively doubled.

Game Weighting

Related to wagering is the game weighting. That’s because not all casino games are created equal. By this, we mean that the majority of online pokies (excluding progressive jackpots) will contribute towards your wagering requirements 100%. However, RNG table games like online blackjack or roulette may only contribute 5% – or, sometimes, nothing at all. This is particularly the case with live dealer games.

So, essentially, the more game weighting is applied (i.e., the lower the game weighting percentage), the more you’ll have to grind to complete the wagering. On the other hand, 100% game weighting is ideal. This is why we recommend completing the wagering on pokies more often than not. Significantly reduced game weighting of less than 10% just makes wagering more difficult and time-consuming.

Win Limits

Another T&C you might see mentioned alongside the other ones covered here are win limits. These particularly apply to no deposit bonuses or free spins on registration. However, win limits can be applied to any given casino bonus. It’s simply a way for a casino to limit its exposure to big winners.

As for what’s best for you as a player, then no win limit is better than having one in place. But when comparing two similar casino bonuses, then the one with the highest win limit is preferable. For example, being able to withdraw winnings of NZ$500 is better than only being able to withdraw NZ$50.

Expiration Dates

Another key T&C for online casino bonus offers is how long you get to use them and complete any wagering. The longer the better in both cases. For example, if you get free spins when you sign up, it’s preferable to have up to 30 days in which to play them compared to just 24 hours at some casinos.

Likewise, the longer period in which you have to complete the wagering requirements, the better. Most of the best online casinos in NZ give players a generous 30 days in which to satisfy the wagering requirements. However, we have seen fairly tight expiration dates of around 7 days at some sites.

Other Bonus Terms

There are a few other common T&Cs you’ll come across from time to time. We’ll cover all these in one section. First and foremost, you’re likely to see a rule about only having one active bonus at a time. So, for example, you’ll need to use up and wager your welcome bonus before claiming a reload bonus.

Other bonuses may be restricted to higher loyalty levels – so, you can only partake if you’ve reached a certain loyalty level. Another one could be that you must complete the KYC process before being able to withdraw winnings from any bonuses. Others will be more about clamping down on bonus abuse.

Lastly, there may be restrictions on locations. By this, we mean that some bonuses may only be available to players based somewhere other than New Zealand. The same can be true of payment methods too, with Skrill and Neteller regularly excluded from even the best online casino bonuses.

General Terms & Conditions

Last but by no means least in this section, we always go over the fine print in each online casino’s general terms and conditions. This is to ensure that the site isn’t applying overly restrictive T&Cs or hiding critical rules with impenetrable legalese. Of course, with the majority of New Zealand online casino players using sites based abroad, we check that NZ is not on the list of restricted countries.

Game Selection

The fourth stage in our online casino review process is to check the variety of games. After all, the majority of your time at the best online casinos will be spent playing popular casino games. Here are the most popular categories we want to see at every online casino:

Casumo Casino features a wide selection of games, including online pokies and live dealer games
Casumo features a wide selection of games, including online pokies and live dealer games. Great!

Aside from those core elements, there are a few other categories that are nice to have. These include sports betting, online scratchies, bingo, Slingo, poker, crash gambling and Provably Fair games. Having a wide selection from top providers really bumps a casino’s score. Speaking of developers…

Game Developers

The fifth stage in assessing online casinos is to ensure the top game providers are present. Therefore, for top marks, we want to see a good range of different game developers on any given NZ casino site. And we’re not just talking about the ones everyone knows. We also want to see a few of the smaller developers on the top casino sites, so players get a chance to play all the latest casino games.

Each of the sites with real money casino games complies with testing organisations like eCOGRA or iTech Labs. However, to ensure you are getting accurate RTP, house edge and volatility scores, it’s best to go with MGA casino sites. The Curaçao eGaming casinos can change RTP and other metrics in their favour. What’s more, Curaçao-licensed casinos do not need to specify the exact RTP if they don’t want to.

Payment Methods

It’s vital to have a good payment method in place before signing up at an online casino. But it’s a toss-up between speed, security and availability that may swing your decision one way or another. That’s why we check every last detail of the available payment methods at the best NZ casinos.

First of all, we want to see that deposits and withdrawals are available in NZD. Without that, fees for currency exchanges can be a huge pain. On top of that, we check the online casino’s withdrawal times for each payment option. This ensures that you can get your winnings in a timely fashion.

Transaction Fees

The majority of NZ gambling sites do not charge any additional fees for making deposits or withdrawals. However, the payment provider may add a small charge for some payments. That’s why it’s always best to check with the payment provider ahead of time. Also, beware that any transfers that require currency conversions to and from NZD may incur fees from your payment provider, too.

Customer Support

When we play at an online casino NZ, we put the customer support team through its paces. That’s because there will always come a time when you need to get in touch with the team to resolve an issue. For example, a game might not work properly, you can’t claim a bonus or you need help completing the KYC process. So, having knowledgeable support staff to assist you is worth its weight in gold.

The good news for Kiwis playing at NZ online casino sites is that most support agents speak English. However, that doesn’t mean they will always be around 24-7. So, the first thing we check is that there is at least one form of help available around the clock. This is usually in the form of email communication.

We use the Live Chat feature and speak to an agent called Alice at top online casino SkyCity
We use the Live Chat feature and speak to an agent called Alice at SkyCity online casino

Generally speaking, excellent NZ online casinos have multiple ways of contacting them. This can be live chat with an agent (see above), an AI chatbot, phone and the aforementioned email. For speed, we tend to opt for live chat – however, if it’s AI sifting out articles that are not always relevant, we want the option to speak with a real customer support agent. Phone is not always an option for Kiwis because it would involve an international call.

Last but not least, we want to ensure that the information we’re getting is accurate. So, when reviewing real money online casinos in NZ, we send over a variety of test questions. This helps us gauge the level of knowledge displayed by the casino’s customer support team. Friendliness and professionalism are also important metrics. So, as you can see, we really assess every detail of an online casino’s customer support tools!

Safety & Security

The next stage in testing online casinos NZ is to check if they’re safe. By this, we mean that technology is in place to ensure the security of the casino platform. We’re talking site-wide encryption, two-factor account logins, data protection and so on. So, how do we decide between safe and unsafe casinos?

First of all, we look for valid SSL or TLS certificates. Also, it’s worth noting that the much older Secure Socket Layer (SSL) has now been replaced by the far more robust Transport Layer Security (TLS). So, it’s the latter we want to see being used by NZ casino sites. Clicking the padlock symbol next to the HTTPS URL brings up the info required and modern browsers like Chrome will validate the security.

Casumo is a top casino site, with pokies, live casino games and sports betting all covered
Here, we check the TLS security certificate for Casumo – one of the safest online casinos in NZ

Once we know that the site is encrypted by TLS, we look for other security measures. For example, are IPs blocked for certain geolocations? Are there sufficient identity checks to ensure the safety of players and the casino alike? Is player data adequately protected by being stored on an encrypted server?

We carry out all these checks to ensure you are safe playing at our recommended online casinos. After all, as we play at every casino we review, it’s our financial details on the line if the security isn’t up to snuff. This also ties in with our background checks on the owners of the online casino site.

How is the KYC Process?

While it’s possible to use POLi Pay to bypass some of the registration process, NZ casino sites will still ask you to provide Know Your Customer (KYC) documents. This is to ensure that there is no suspicion of identity theft or other forms of fraud such as misappropriating funds or money laundering.

Also, because there isn’t a single licensing authority governing foreign online casinos, there is no firm timeframe for completing the KYC checks. So, while you may be asked for KYC documents upon registration, when making your first deposit or within your first 30 days, more often than not the KYC process will take place upon requesting your first withdrawal from the casino or online gambling site.

When reviewing this process at NZ casinos, we want to see clear instructions, proper tools for uploading documents and an inconvenience-free experience if things need to be followed up. We also ask customer support for help to see how well they are trained in guiding players on KYC checks.

Typically, you will be asked for a government-approved form of photo ID. This includes a passport or driver’s license, for example. Then you’ll need to supply an official letter from within the last three months such as a utility bill or bank statement to prove your address. Following that, you may also be asked for proof of payment, such as the front and back of a card or the account page of an eWallet.

For more information about the whole process, check out our guide to the KYC Process at NZ Casinos.

Design & Usability

The ninth step in assessing New Zealand casinos online is to check the design and usability. After all, a bad design can really affect every other aspect of playing at an online casino. Bad design not only makes the site less attractive but it can also influence the navigation and usability of the whole site.

The first thing we check is how easy it is to find the main pages. Most online casinos will have their games lobby on the homepage. That’s all well and good. But is it easy to search and/or filter the casino games? Can you select games by category, theme, number of paylines, developer and so on?

Can you easily locate the payments page to find out about deposit and withdrawal times? Is there an FAQ section for answering the most common queries? Can you contact customer support without being logged in? We want to be able to find all of these things within one or two clicks of the homepage.

Coupled with all of the above, we also check the overall speed of the online gambling site. How fast (or slow) do the pages load? What about the games? Is there any noticeable lag when performing certain actions? When things look good, are laid out logically and everything loads quickly, we’re onto a winner.

Responsible Gambling

While responsible gambling (RG) should be taken seriously at all NZ casino sites, sadly that’s not the case. And, unfortunately, not everyone can take it or leave it with online gambling. In fact, according to the New Zealand Ministry of Health, one in five Kiwis will experience harm from either their own gambling or as a result of someone else’s gambling in their lifetime.

Because of the seriousness of the topic, the next thing we always check while reviewing casinos is the RG tools for vulnerable players. Our guide to responsible gambling shows that RG initiatives can and do have a positive impact on many player’s lives. That’s why we score casinos based on their responsible gambling tools, advice and other initiatives.

Who Owns the Online Casino?

The final check we do when assessing casino sites is to find out who owns it. After all, we aim for full transparency and trust when putting our seal of approval on casinos. So, we always look behind the scenes and find out which company is really running the show.

When performing background checks on the owners, we want to know about their history in the online gambling market. Have they run online casinos in the past? And if not, do they have a good reputation from their previous endeavours? Relevant experience is very important when running a casino site. We also dig through the gambling forum archives to see if there are any discrepancies.

We also want to find out if the owners are part of a stock-listed company or if the site is privately owned. Plus, if this information is obscured or at least incredibly hard to find, we start asking more questions and dig a little deeper. Is there a reason for the lack of transparency? We need to know everything there is to know before recommending a site to you as the best online casino NZ!

How We Rate Casinos – Conclusion

Now you have a thorough grasp of each of the criteria we are examining when judging online casinos. By putting each casino up against our review and ratings criteria, we can get an overview of the best sites – compared to the ones that need improvement. You can also use our same criteria when finding the perfect online casino for your needs. To see the criteria in action, check out the full list of casino reviews at CasinoCrawlers.

How We Rate Casinos FAQ

Are your reviews 100% unbiased?

Yes, it is. Although we earn some commission via affiliate links on our platform, we do not compromise our standards. We retain control over editorial content, including our opinions about any casino we review. Doing this ensures that users will always find transparent, factual, and honest data about all the casinos we review and rate.

How do you test the casino’s customer support?

It's quite easy to test the casino's customer support. We first examine the contact pages and other avenues to reach out to the support team. The ideal customer support for players is available 24 hours, so we look for this and check for other contact methods. We then send some test questions via live chat or email to test their knowledge and response time.

How do I find the license of an online casino?

You will mostly find this information in the footer area of the online casino site. Most gambling sites will have a logo for the licensing authority that will show players more details about the casino's license. Alternatively, there may also be a text link in the footer area of the casino site, together with the license number.

What makes a good casino in NZ?

Look for casino sites that are fully licenced, reputable and independently regulated. Check for licence information and certification before playing online casino sites. A good casino should offer high levels of security and encryption, along with a wide range of games from well-known developers such as Microgaming, NetEnt and Evolution, to name but a few.


Noah Adams
Noah Adams
Senior Content Editor
106 Articles
0 Reviews

Noah is the senior content editor at CasinoCrawlers and a writer with many iGaming articles under his portfolio. Therefore, he is skilled at writing bonus guidelines, gambling strategies, and casino reviews. During his spare time, he enjoys playing Call of Duty and is a huge rugby fan.

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