Election 2023: National's gambling tax plan currently illegal, would need law change

National is defending another part of its policy to fund tax cuts for Kiwis. This time, it's the party's plan to regulate and tax online gambling operators.

Newshub can reveal it would actually be illegal to license new online gambling operations and requires a law change.

The blue team had a tooting good time waving hoardings around Wellington's Basin Reserve on Tuesday. That's despite a banana being biffed at them and some hecklers.

The wannabe Finance Minister, Nicola Willis, and her leader, Christopher Luxon, are totally confident they can pay for the $14.6 billion they need to cut Kiwis' taxes.

Luxon said National was offering "up to $250 a week to an average family with kids". But that's not right. Willis had to interrupt to say it was per fortnight, not weekly.

National is very confident the party's tax plan works.

"We are very confident in our modelling. I understand numbers, Nicola understands numbers. We understand economics," said Luxon.

Experts are less confident about their foreign buyers' luxury homes tax.

NZME head of business Fran O'Sullivan told Newshub Nation that National had made a "heroic assumption" with its figures, while Sense Partners economist Shamubeel Eaqub said it was "bullshit".

They're also not confident about the proposed online gambling tax

"It can take quite some time for all of that to come together. There may also be a consultation process," said Andree Froude from the Problem Gambling Foundation. 

The process National wants is to regulate online gambling so operators are licensed and pay tax here.

"Right now there's a wild west online with gambling in New Zealand," said Willis.

It's similar to what SkyCity proposed in a confidential report, which National used to inform its policy.

Newshub's obtained it. It shows with demand for online gambling doubling every two years, there's money to be made - $1.9b over a decade - if it can be regulated and taxed. 

"What I think we could see is that people who currently provide gambling services online become domestically registered, domestically licensed, have a New Zealand-based operation," said Willis. 

But Newshub can reveal under the Gambling Act it's actually forbidden to approve new licenses to new casinos or increase the opportunities for casino gambling. In fact, the Act doesn't even mention online gambling.

That means National needs to first change the law.

Willis said that is the entire point, that these laws are outdated and changing them would happen as a matter of urgency.

"This is heroic," said Labour finance spokesperson Grant Robertson.

"I cannot see how they'll do all of the things they need to do. And even if they did it still wouldn't add up."

Asked if National had a backstop, meaning an alternative in case its proposed taxes don't work, such as simply breaking the promise of cuts, borrowing money or cutting services, Luxon said the party was "rock solid in our assumptions, our modelling and our delivery".

"We will deliver our tax plan to New Zealanders."

So there's no plan B with billions of dollars on the line.