Melbourne Cup: Internal Affairs warns of $20,000 fine for breaking office sweepstakes rules

Office sweepstakes are a tradition as old as the Melbourne Cup itself.

You and your work colleagues all chip in a fiver, you get assigned a horse at random, and you hope like hell your mare crosses the finish line at Flemington first.

If your horse comes fourth or lower, you're out of luck - but if it places, you might end up with enough dosh to treat yourself to a fancy dinner or a nice box of beers.

But organisers, be warned: the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) has issued a reminder that your Melbourne Cup sweepstake could be breaching the law - and if it is, you could be landed with a massive fine.

Under the Gambling Act 2003, sweepstakes are allowed but they must comply with the following rules:

  • Prize money can't exceed $500
  • All money raised must be returned as prizes
  • Firearms, alcohol and tobacco are all prohibited prizes
  • The organiser can't pocket a fee or profit in any way from running a sweepstake

Internal Affairs says sweepstakes that breach these rules are considered illegal gambling and can result in a fine of up to $20,000.

"DIA regulates casino and non-casino gambling in New Zealand so Kiwis can enjoy safe and fair gambling. It's one of the ways we ensure Aotearoa’s hapū, iwi and communities are safe, resilient and thriving," a press release reads.

"So, if you're thinking of running a sweepstake, you can but ensure you understand and comply with the rules."

If you're keen to put together a last-minute Melbourne Cup office sweepstake, you can use Newshub's template here. The article also features a runner-by-runner guide if you're unsure who to put your money on.

Internal Affairs reminds those placing bets through commercial gambling companies to know their limits and bet within their means. Those who think their gambling may be a problem can seek help by contacting the Gambling Helpline.

If you're struggling with gambling, call the Gambling Helpline on 0800 654 655 or text 1737 at any time for support.