Approved Online Casinos for NZ
Our main goal with Lion Casinos is to offer transparent reviews of online casinos that accept and tailor their games and bonuses to players in New Zealand. Unlike many of our competitors, we pride ourselves on being objective and not letting advertising fees cloud our judgment on which brands are the best for players.
How so? It’s quite simple actually – when our objectives align with yours, it’s great for business and you keep coming back for more, as our seal of approval actually holds value. That’s what you’ll get from casinos that are accredited by LionCasinos.com
Now you can either jump into the list of sites presented below or take a look at what are some of our core values for reviewing casinos slightly lower on this same page. We presented some of them on our homepage too, but here we’ll go into more detail.
These days, fans of online casino games are being spoilt for choice. More and more brands fight to attract new players and keep the existing ones from spending their money at one of the many competing sites, and eventually, players benefit. At the same time, it gets increasingly difficult to decide where to play.
We know that you’d rather spend time having fun than waste hours trying to find a safe gaming venue able to satisfy your needs, so we’re doing the research instead. Our comprehensive reviews address crucial elements of the casino’s offering and assign ratings based on safety, fairness, and quality of the gaming experience. If you care to read on, we’ll explain the metrics used.
Top $NZD Casino Sites With LionCasinos Approval
Before you jump into the amazing world of NZ online casinos, we would like to take this moment to remind you that playing casino games should only be a form of entertainment. If you feel like it is turning into a problem, please refer to our responsible gambling section for extensive advice on how to better control yourself.
We want you to have an enjoyable online casino playing experience and thus we follow a couple of simple, but important principles to ensure that this will, in fact, be the case.
All casinos approved by LionCasinos are:
- Licensed in reputable jurisdictions and safe to play at.
- Approve payouts within 72 hours.
- Do not stall the verification process.
- Have high monthly withdrawal limits.
- Offer original games with fair RTPs.
- Take problem gambling seriously.
- Provide great customer support via e-mail, phone, and live chat.
How We Deconstruct a Casino Site
We’ve borrowed this awesome ideology of deconstruction from Tim Ferriss, who does this with hundreds of successful people all over the world to understand how they got to be who they are. This same method can be used to judge whether an online casino is worth depositing and playing at or not.
We start by coming up with the metrics that work as a foundation for a succesful gambling site and these are displayed below.
Please note that we also get into less trivial sides of casinos in the end of this page that work as bonus points for brands that have already earned our approval.
When gambling online, you’re required to send your money via the internet to someone you know nothing about. Will it arrive safely, without some fraudster getting access to your private and sensitive information and robbing you blind? If it does reach the intended destination and enables you to start placing bets, will the resulting winnings be paid fairly, promptly and in full?
The online gambling industry is currently worth over $50 billion and is therefore hugely appealing to unscrupulous operators looking to make a fortune at the expense of unsuspecting players. How can you know that the one you’ve chosen to play with is legit when they are likely located thousands of miles away and you’ve got no previous experience to show they can be trusted?
That’s where industry regulators come in. Their main objectives are to ensure that gambling is conducted in a fair and open way, free from criminal activities and that children and other vulnerable persons are protected. They are the ones safeguarding players’ rights, promoting responsible gaming in a safe environment, and ensuring the integrity of games and gaming devices.
Industry regulators set requirements for companies wishing to offer gambling services and carry out assessments to ensure compliance. They will, for example, enforce testing and certification of the operator’s gambling products by one of the independent test houses, demand that the service provider implements systems for receiving and managing customer complaints, and make sure the licensee always has adequate financing to be able to pay current and estimated obligations.
Having acquired evidence that a licensee doesn’t comply, the license issuer will react in one way or another. If the operator doesn’t revise non-compliant behaviour, it will use its regulatory powers to take enforcement action.
In order to operate legally, online gambling operators must be registered and in compliance in at least one jurisdiction. Though the job is always the same, licensing bodies differ in terms of the level of protection offered to players. That’s why it’s not only important to make sure your chosen online casino has a valid operating license, but also to check who is the issuer.
Operators are frequently using the opportunity to create an offshore company in places like Malta, Curacao or Gibraltar and obtain a gambling license there. Having done so, they’ll promote their services to a worldwide gaming community (with certain exceptions).
Casinos licensed by the Malta Gaming Authority are generally considered safe and trustworthy due to fairly strict regulations. What’s more, the MGA features an Online Player Support Channel you can reach out to in case of an issue with one of their licensees. Curacao gambling authorities, on the other hand, seem to be more focused on making life easier for operators than on safeguarding players. That doesn’t mean you should avoid sites licensed in Curacao but be aware the regulator won’t do much to help you out in case of a problem.
Some countries stipulate that online casinos can’t operate on their territory without a license issued by the local regulatory body. They are highly protective of the country’s residents and overall ensure the highest level of safety and fair play. The UK Gambling Commission, for example, licenses and regulates businesses that provide gambling services in Great Britain.
This organisation is renowned for being very strict and its licensees are generally considered to be highly trustworthy. But though it’s very unlikely to encounter an issue with a UK-licensed casino, you should know that the Gambling Commission does not get directly involved in resolving consumer complaints.
What they may do is launch a regulatory or criminal investigation which can result in sanctions and charges. Similar organisations regulate online gambling in Spain, Italy, France, and many other countries in which gambling is legal.
Three different parties make it possible for you to access and play an online casino game. To start with, someone has to produce it. This is mostly (but not exclusively) done by companies specialised for developing slots, RNG and live table games, video pokers and so on, such as Microgaming, NetEnt and Evolution Gaming.
Operators will pick and choose which of their products they want to offer their clients and market them via gaming websites. But there’s another component which you may not be aware of but has a major impact on the quality of your gaming experience – the platform.
Casino platform will seamlessly integrate games from a number of different developers into a single casino lobby, allowing players to access them through a user-friendly interface on desktops or mobile devices and enabling operators to manage the entire portfolio from one central back-office.
Lines between the three are getting increasingly blurred. You’ll find that games are also being developed by platform providers as well as operators and that some game providers (e.g. Microgaming and Playtech) develop their own platforms.
Let’s imagine you decided to launch an online casino yourself. You’d have to make an agreement with one or more software providers, source a casino platform, secure operating licenses, integrate a payment system, set up customer support service, etc.
Once the casino was launched, you’d need to manage day-to-day operations. The entire process takes time, money and manpower only large companies can afford. Or so it used to be. Nowadays, one can choose among numerous white label solutions and have someone else do the hard work. What’s more, this option significantly shortens time-to-market and decreases set-up and operating costs. One can easily become the owner of a successful online casino even if they’ve got no relevant experience whatsoever.
White label providers will supply a gaming platform with an assortment of RNG and live dealer games, but also provide promotional tools, customer support service, payment processing solution and operating licenses. They will be in charge of running daily operations and your job as the brand owner will be to implement marketing activities and make sure new players keep coming in.
Speed, low costs and the minimum amount of hassle is a combination that makes white label solutions increasingly popular. As a result, many of the new brands are launched on the same platform and sometimes there’s very little to distinguish one from another.
You’ll easily notice it if you visit a few gaming sites powered by Nektan (Pots Of Luck, Kerching!) or ProgressPlay Limited; other than the name and logo, these online casinos are more or fewer clones. Pots Of Luck and Kerching!
Casino features identical lobbies and menus, support the same payment methods, and there’s very little difference in terms of their promotional offering. Neither has a distinct personality that would make them stand out in this highly competitive environment. Due to lack of creativity and above-average performance in any of the areas, they’re unable to provide a memorable gaming experience.
It doesn’t need to be so, as demonstrated by iGaming Cloud. Take a look at “the world’s happiest casino” Cashmio and Wishmaker Casino and see if you’d ever guess they were built on the same platform.
Track Record of The Owners
There are other ways to overcome doubts raised by having to enter into a relationship with someone you don’t know, especially in an industry that has recorded some truly magnificent blowouts.
You may have heard about once-popular poker site called Full Tilt whose directors built up a kind of Ponzi scheme and consequently defrauded players out of over €300 million. To quote District Attorney Preet Bharara, “insiders lined their own pockets with funds picked from the pockets of their most loyal customers while blithely lying to both players and the public alike about the safety and security of the money deposited within the company.”
Rogue casinos, part of the Virtual Casino Group, have a long history of non-payment of winnings, slow withdrawal processing and stalling of payments. In 1997, the group owner was convicted and jailed for conspiracy and mail fraud in the US, and a frustrated player who visited the company’s offices to find out why he wasn’t paid was beaten up.
There’s a number of unlicensed casinos running fake and rigged NetEnt and Playtech games and doing their best to hide information of ownership. There’s little doubt that those who have decided to play there got cheated.
These things do happen, but they needn’t to happen to you. If you were a professional considering doing business with a new supplier, you’d probably check their track record, financials and references.
The same thing can be done with an online gaming service provider. Make use of the internet, an accessible resource with plenty of reports and reviews published by independent and unbiased industry watchdogs such as Ask Gamblers (before they were acquired by a public company) and The POGG.
Research the owners to confirm the website is managed by one of the reputable companies or iGaming groups. Check to see how long the casino has been operational; those launched more than a decade ago are less likely to disappoint than a brand which is only a month or two old.
You’ll probably be safe if playing at a site owned by a publicly traded company, such as Kindred (Unibet, 32Red, Roxy Palace) and MT SecureTrade Limited/GiG (Guts, Rizk, Cashmio, Dunder).
Being listed on a Stock Exchange means the company’s financials are closely monitored and owners will do whatever it takes to avoid scandals likely to impact price of their shares.
It’s important to point out that both public and private companies can run legitimate brands, such as is proven by Casumo, BitCasino, Casoo, and many other safe Canadian casino sites..
Player Friendly Terms
If you had ever signed a contract of any kind, friends and family may have warned you to read the small print; text printed in very small type can have major impact on what happens next and yet it’s easily overlooked. This is a piece of equally good advice for players about to make a real money investment.
By accepting Terms & Conditions published at a gaming website, you’re as good as signing a legally binding contract so make sure to read every single sentence and ask for clarification if needed. Once you say “I accept”, that’s it; you’ll never be able to complain about not being aware of rules attached to use of bonus funds, payment fees, etc.
Generally, the biggest issues appear in the promotional terms and conditions. You’ll see restrictions such as being able to use bonus or meet wagering requirements with only a handful of games, which may or may not be those that you actually enjoy playing.
There will be maximum bet limits and forbidden type of bets, but one of the worst things may be when operators impose (low) maximum withdrawal limit related to winnings generated while playing with bonus funds. It’s not at all surprising to find predatory inactivity clauses with high maintenance fees and the prospect of your entire positive balance being seized as the operator terminates your account.
Casinos with good dormancy terms will allow for a reasonable amount of time to pass before labelling an account dormant, and then use all options at their disposal to contact the player prior to enforcement. If and when an account becomes dormant, they’ll charge reasonable fees.
Browsing through various T&Cs, we’ve seen sentences such as “we may, at our sole discretion and for any reason, terminate your account… we shall not be liable to you or any third party for any claims or damages arising out of any aforementioned termination or suspension of the account”, and many other similar phrases which casinos use to limit their liability.
Trustworthy operators will rarely use small print or in any way try to conceal details which may change your mind when it comes to registering or claiming promotional deals. Their Terms will provide all necessary information in an easy-to-read format.
You will rarely come across predatory terms, especially when playing at casinos licensed by one of the stricter regulators; the likes of MGA and UKGC will not allow their licensees to impose terms which are harmful for end users. Nevertheless, the casino’s T&C should be read in order to avoid a nasty surprise only once it’s too late to do anything about it.
Responsible Gambling Practices
Online gambling can be tons of fun but it can just as easily create huge problems. Being able to stay in control is key. When you start spending unreasonably large amounts of time and money to play casino games while your private and professional lives begin to suffer, you’ve probably lost control and should ask for help.
Every online casino is required to respond by providing easy-to-use responsible gambling tools such as deposit and wagering limits, cool-off periods and self-exclusions. Once you have indicated to the operator that you may have a gambling problem, they should stop tempting you with special deals which might be hard to resist.
Rogue operators are not that keen to limit your spending. Their responsible gaming tools will not be as user-friendly and promotional emails will keep showing up in your inbox.
They will often adopt long withdrawal processing period, hoping to give you enough time to change your mind and reinvest the money instead of cashing out. This kind of behaviour is typical for casinos licensed by organisations which do very little to protect players, such as the Curacao Internet Gambling Association.
At the same time, good online casino operators will do all they’re required to do and more, all in your best interest. They’ll provide self-assessment tests to help you identify a potential gambling problem, train their staff accordingly, and even implement unique tools such as the Withdrawal Lock.
The latter is a great option that allows the player to lock their withdrawal request as soon as it’s been made.
Once that’s done, the payment can’t be stopped no matter what. Rizk and Casumo are a few of the gaming sites that currently support this feature and hopefully others will follow.
Every online casino operator will try to convince you their games aren’t rigged and you’ve got a fair chance of winning. They’ll support these claims by mentioning a Random Number Generator (RNG) used with all gaming products except for live dealer games.
RNG makes sure that every single outcome delivered by a spin of the reels or a set of cards dealt is completely random and can’t be influenced by players nor operators.
Licensing bodies stipulate that RNGs have to be tested by independent third party organisations such as GLI, NMi and eCOGRA in order to make sure that they do what they’re supposed to. The website you’re playing at should at least state which organisation tests and certifies RNG used with featured games and ideally also provide links to allow you to view certificates.
Game developers do the testing themselves prior to releasing new games. They’ll play thousands of rounds and record the theoretical return to player (RTP) – the ratio of amounts won vs those wagered expressed as a percentage.
Top tier game providers such as NetEnt, Microgaming and NYX will never launch a game without making sure it will consistently deliver arbitrary outcomes, but there have been incidents of some other developers marketing products which have later proven to be neither random nor fair.
In 2012 The Pogg did an extensive testing of SkillOnNet’s video poker gamble feature and found it to be non-random. Even though the chance of receiving a red or black card should be 50/50, in 301 gambles the team has experienced as many as 193 losses and as few as 108 wins.
BetSoft, an extremely popular developer of amazing video slots and other casino games, was regretfully caught out more than once. An extensive 9-month investigation into the company’s progressive jackpot games revealed that, at certain denominations, they were not paying jackpots at all.
There was an incident of a player who should have won a progressive while playing The Glam Life but was not paid; the company claimed it was due to the winning spin occurring during the bonus round and updated the paytable accordingly days after the event.
In 2014, BetSoft lost the license issued by the Alderney Gambling Control Commission for running a rigged game of Keno few years earlier. Pragmatic Play (formerly Top Game) was called out for mysteriously missing Wild symbols in several of their games (Diablo 13, Wild Sevens, Dougies Delights).
High Withdrawal Limits
The vast majority of online casinos feature deposit and withdrawal limits. They define the minimum amount players can deposit and cash-out per transaction as well as the maximum amount they can collect per withdrawal, week and/or month.
One would generally hope for as low as possible minimum limits and high maximum ones. High cash-out limits not only allow lucky winners to get hold of their cash at once rather than get paid in instalments, but are also an indicator of the casino’s financial health.
You’ll find more than a few operators willing to pay measly amounts per transaction or per week and thus force players to wait for months until the entire amount makes it to their bank accounts.
That’s not necessarily because they’re unable to pay but more likely an attempt to see the money wagered at their own site rather than cashed out and spent elsewhere. The worst ones will delay payments as much as possible in the hope that, after numerous inquiries made via chats and emails, the player will eventually get tired and give up.
Another example of bad practice is applying the same withdrawal limit to progressive jackpot wins which tend to be well above average.
While we consider all of the above to be important enough to directly impact ratings assigned to each and every reviewed gaming site, there are a few other elements players should consider when choosing where to play.
Bonus Offers & Promotions
You’ll struggle to find an online casino that fails to tempt potential new members with one kind of a welcome bonus or another, and there’s absolutely no harm in taking the offer – as long as you don’t allow the promise of free money to cloud your judgement and make you forget there’s no such thing as a free meal.
Be aware that some casino operators are real masters in tricking the client into believing they’re getting a super-deal without realizing it comes with harsh conditions.
Among many ifs and don’ts, the first thing you need to check is a little something called the wagering requirement. You’ll see, for example, a welcome offer in the form of a 100% match up €100 available to new players willing to make their first deposit of $10 or more.
You’re a newbie willing to risk a limited amount of money but $10 is exactly in line with the planned investment, so you think – why not? Instead of $10, you’ll be able to wager $20 and thus play for longer and get additional opportunities to score a nice win. So you accept the offer and start using your $20 budget while keeping your fingers crossed.
But wait! Did you notice that the offer is subject to 25x wagering requirements (or play-through requirements, or rollover), and if so, do you know what that means? If playing in a user-friendly venue, the 25x rollover will apply to bonus funds only and at not-so-friendly sites to both the deposit and bonus.
In the first case scenario, you’ll be able to withdraw your winnings (and potentially also the bonus) once you’ve placed bets worth $250 (25x $10 deposit), while in the other you’d have to wager as much as $500. Failing to do so makes your winnings disappear. Tough luck!
What if you had instead chosen to reject the bonus? Chances are that, having gambled away your $10, you would (perhaps a tad regretfully) switch back to the fun mode or go do something else. If you were lucky enough to win another $10, you’d either happily collect your profit or continue playing until your balance drops down to zero. And then go do something else.
Having convinced you to accept its generous “we’ll double your money” offer, the operator is, in reality, pushing you to play for longer and potentially spend significantly more than was originally planned. Take the bonus, by all means, but don’t be a fool; make sure you understand the consequences of your decision.
Mobile Playing Experience
Don’t get over-excited if you see an online casino proudly advertising accessibility via mobile devices. All gaming websites nowadays offer one or more ways to play their games while away from desktops and laptops, but the quality of mobile gaming experience is by no means the same.
Most create mobile-responsive sites which means they’ll properly load once you type in the casino’s address in the browser bar.
The way it looks and ease of use will give you an idea about the amount of effort invested in making the mobile casino user-friendly. Some online casinos additionally create downloadable apps designed for iOS and/or Android devices. Few have gone the extra mile and delivered something truly exceptional.
Take Leo Vegas, for example. The brand won Best Native App at the EGR Marketing and Innovation Awards 2017 as well as Mobile Operator of the Year at the 2019 International Gaming Awards – both thanks to an amazing mobile app available on Apple and Android devices.
It looks great and is dead easy to read and navigate. To provide personalized mobile entertainment, the operator has included easy-to-access Quick Launch button with shortcuts to last played games and My Games button leading to a section that stores the player’ favourite ones. You’ll also see discreetly positioned tabs which make it easy to switch to full screen, take screenshots and record the action.
Betsson is another gaming site with a top-quality mobile app that can be downloaded on both Android and iOS devices. It provides quick and easy access to all segments of the site’s offering, including Casino, Live Casino, Sportsbook and Poker.
Users are able to use convenient search options, save their favourite games, claim promotions, upload documents and make payments just as easily as they would using a desktop computer.
Loyalty Program & Gamification
Many online casinos promote nearly identical loyalty programs. You make a deposit and use the money to play games of your choice, the operator awards a certain number of loyalty points for each dollar wagered and then offers you to exchange your points for a tangible reward – usually bonus and sometime real cash.
Many also feature a multi-tiered VIP scheme with each level granting access to bigger and better benefits – additional promotional offers, larger bonuses and cashbacks, higher deposit and/or cash-out limits, faster withdrawal processing, and so on. The more points you manage to accumulate, the higher is your VIP level.
Although most operators seem to be happy to implement this easy copy-paste solution, there are some mention-worthy exceptions and those willing to invest time and effort into creating something unique and far more enjoyable.
Casumo team, for example, came up with a loyalty program called the Casumo Adventure. It’s also based on points but executed in a more creative manner. Each new player who opens an account prompts the birth of a cute little character with a rope around its waist.
The rope starts off as white and changes in color to yellow, red, blue, purple and black as the player progresses to new levels and new planets; similar to belts typical of martial arts, these are meant to reflect your skill level.
Accumulated points are fuelling your movement between levels and planets, and the better your belt, the bigger is the chance you’ll find valuables at each new level you manage to land on. Valuables come in the form of free spins, deposit bonuses or free cash and can be activated any time you wish. They are stored at the player’s own adventure page along with trophies earned by performing various tasks.
If you want to show off, you have the option to showcase your trophies to other Casumos.
Proprietary or Exclusive Games
One way an online casino can differentiate is by offering a choice of gaming products not available elsewhere. They are able to do so by developing games in-house or by partnering up with a renowned provider willing to customize their products so that they become the client’s own.
Gaming sites that are part of 888 Holdings feature a good number of proprietary titles and so do Bodog, Bovada and other brands within the same family. Guts and Rizk have recently introduced games developed by GiG, a well-known provider of iGaming platform that also offers its clients a range of additional services and thus allows them to fully focus on their end-users.
At the same time, the company operates as a 360 digital marketing provider able to generate leads via paid media (social media, AdWords, permission marketing and display advertising) as well as the content published on the casino and betting guide websites. To make the package complete, GiG offers a fully hosted and managed sportsbook and features a small but growing portfolio of pokies and other casino games.
Cooperating with developers of live dealer games, such as Evolution Gaming, enables online casinos to offer exclusive products featuring their own branding. Leo Vegas is, for instance, home to several exclusive Live Roulette and Live Blackjack games powered by the industry leader. Leo’s branding is present all over the place while players still get to enjoy Evolution’s super-high streaming quality, user-friendly interface and top-notch dealers.
The same developer has provided customized solutions for Unibet (Unibet Francais Roulette), Royal Panda, and William Hill (Mayfair and Macau Roulette).
BGO has likewise partnered up with Playtech. Mr Green Casino features both Evolution’s and NetEnt’s exclusive tables playing roulette and blackjack. If you launch NetEnt’s Live Beyond Live products, you’ll see Mr Green himself strolling between tables placed on the virtual casino floor.
While the aforementioned customized products become part of the operator’s ongoing offering, players will occasionally also find exclusive tables linked to a particular season or a promotion and made available only during a limited time period.
Side Games & Products
In the past, gaming sites tended to specialize for one kind of fun or another and some still do. One would build a gaming catalog consisting of pokies and table games, the other would offer sports betting services, and yet another would create a place exclusively targeting poker fans.
If you were into poker but also liked spinning reels of feature-rich video pokies, you’d have to visit at least two different venues to be able to play both.
Nowadays one can find a number of sites operating as one-stop-shops for all your gambling needs. They’re offering all of the above and more at the same place, making the entire package accessible with the same username-password combo and allowing players to finance it all from the same wallet.
Convenience is becoming increasingly important as more and more brands fight for the same customer.
Customer Support Experience
All online casino operators have to provide one or more direct contact tools but some apparently do so just so they could click the box while keeping the related cost as low as possible. You’ll recognize them by time-limited working hours of their support team (which occasionally seems to be completely out of sync with players’ gaming habits), few contact options and unhelpful support staff.
Once you start chatting to the casino’s representative, it quickly becomes evident how trained and motivated they are.
It’s not uncommon to receive pre-designed answers they’ve copied from somewhere just before posting it, even if it doesn’t directly address your query. There may be language issues where the agent doesn’t seem to understand what you’re asking or is unable to deliver a clear answer. You may experience delays and be forced to stare at your screen for minutes before the other party replies, and then do so again and again with each question asked.
This is how extraordinary customer support functions: you’re given at least three contact options (Live Chat, email, and phone – preferably toll-free), all available 24/7. Having chosen one, you’re greeted by a competent and welcoming individual within seconds.
You explain what is it that you need help with and they promptly answer, or at least apologise for not being able to do so and propose an alternative – like consulting their colleagues or the manager and supplying the required information in a specified period of time.
Following a pleasurable and efficient exchange that has successfully addressed your issue, the agent checks if there’s anything more they can do and ends the conversation in a friendly manner. A good indicator of how much the operator cares is being asked for your feedback once a Live Chat session has finished.
Those guys normally use the feedback received to adapt their training programs, incentivizes their staff, and implement whatever changes are likely to upgrade the quality of the service.