Although James Bond movies have made casinos look like exciting, glittery and glamourous places where you can make lots of money, in reality, it’s not always going to work out in your favour.

Going to a casino is a form of entertainment, but can become harmful. You’re likely to spend more that you win, so it should never be counted on as a way to make money. You’ve probably heard the phrase, “the house always wins.” The house is geared to win in the long run because of a mathematical advantage (or the house edge) that the casino enjoys over the player. You may win on occasions, but continual gambling over time will result in losses for you, the gambler.

Let’s step inside a casino, find out how they really work and give you some tips to keep yourself safe.

What games can you play at a casino?

Casino games – also called table games – can be played in a casino or online. Gambling activities may include card, dice and random number games played on a table. These are managed by a representative of the casino known as the croupier or dealer. Some of the best known games include poker, blackjack, baccarat and roulette. Casino games work by allowing customers to purchase chips and to bet these on the outcomes of a game (such as a round of poker) or an event (such as spinning a roulette wheel).

To learn more about casino games, including the difference between skill and chance-based games, visit our friends at Choice Not Chance.

Tips for staying safe at the casino

  • Remember that gambling at a casino is not a way to make money. The odds are always in the casino’s favour.
  • Set a spending limit. Know what you can afford to lose before you start gambling and stick to it.
  • Set a time limit for your visit to the casino. Most casinos are open 24/7 so work out how long you want to stay there and stick to it.
  • Don’t try and win back money you have lost. This just turns into a vicious cycle of chasing losses.
  • Only take cash. Don’t take your bank cards or credit cards with you when you gamble.
  • When you run out of money, don’t borrow from family, friends or others so you can keep gambling.
  • Balance gambling with other leisure activities such as going for a walk, spending time with family or doing some exercise.
  • If you go to a casino with others, it means you can watch out for one another but it is easy to feel pressured just because someone in the group is spending more or playing longer. Know your own limits and stick to them.
  • Don’t gamble when you’re depressed or feeling low. Decision-making can be more difficult when you’re stressed or upset.
  • Look for the odds and payouts on games you are playing so you are fully informed.
  • Take a break – it’s really important to leave the gambling area rather that just the immediate game so you can truly break free of the environment.
  • Consider using the casino’s pre-commitment facility to limit how much time or money you spend gambling. If you’re not sure how to do this, ask one of the casino staff for help.

Casinos in New Zealand

In New Zealand, there are six casinos and, under the Gambling Act, new ones are prohibited. SkyCity operates four of the six casinos; one in Auckland, one in Hamilton and two in Queenstown. The Auckland casino is by far the largest, with approval to operate up to 150 table games, 1,877 gaming machines and 240 fully automated table games. SkyCity Casino in Auckland increased its gambling products up to the levels above pursuant to the New Zealand International Convention Centre Act 2013, which gives effect to the New Zealand International Convention Centre Project and Licensing Agreement between SkyCity and the Crown.

Casino No. of
No. of gaming
Fully automated
gaming machines
Auckland 150 1,877 240
Christchurch 36 500 -
Hamilton 23 339 -
Dunedin 12 180 -
Queenstown (Beach Street) 12 86 -
Queenstown (Steamers Wharf) 6 74 -

The responsibility for regulation of the gambling sector is shared between the Gambling Commission, the Department of Internal Affairs and the Ministry of Health.

The Gambling Commission is an independent statutory decision-making body established under the Gambling Act 2003. The Commission hears casino licensing applications, and appeals on licensing and enforcement decisions made by the Secretary of Internal Affairs in relation to gaming machines and other non-casino gambling activities. The Gambling Commission has the powers of a Commission of Inquiry.

Casino license conditions are published on the Gambling Commission’s website.