This article was shared with NZRB staff in July 2016: This month, NZRB celebrates 20 years of sports betting. That first sports betting event, on 6 July 1996, was the year’s first Bledisloe Cup Test, where the All Blacks beat Australia 43-6 at Athletic Park. This was also the first All Blacks Tri-Nations test match, as well as being the first Bledisloe Cup test of the professional era.

Tens of thousands of New Zealanders had earlier followed in the footsteps of All Black legend Colin Meads, who took the first sports bet at our Courtenay Place branch in Wellington on 24 June 1996.

Pinetree had a successful punt on the All Blacks to win 13+, and also took First Try Scorer selections of Josh Kronfeld ($14) and Robin Brooke ($40). Intriguingly, both came very close to scoring.

After David Campese put a try saving tackle on Jeff Wilson in the corner, the ball was batted out by Australia in the corner. Robin Brooke then took the following lineout and looked like he’d be driven over, however he had Kronfeld in direct support, but the ball made its way back to Michael Jones who scored the try off the back of the driving maul.

New Zealanders bet $1.15 million on that first match, with $200,000 coming on in the last hour before kick-off. Although not massive when compared to major racing events of the time, the Bledisloe Cup was Australasia’s largest single sports betting event ever at the time.

Colin Meads placing the first sports bet
Colin Meads placing his bet at the Courtenay Place TAB with the agent Richard Newman.

There have been many other Sports Betting milestones in the past 20 years, including:

  • Biggest Event: Rugby World Cup Final 2011, New Zealand v France - $3,466,755.72
  • Biggest Payout: $249,600.00 from a $13 Sports Multi
  • Biggest Bet: $396,000 on New Zealand to beat Australia in the RWC 2015 Final at $1.35
  • 1996/97 Sports Betting Turnover: $33.8m
  • 2014/15 Sports Betting Turnover: $405.0m

Also of note is our Annual Report from 1996, which heralded sports betting on the front page of its newspaper style: