Australian online gambling laws and policy have traditionally been the responsibility of the states, rather than the Commonwealth. State and territory governments regulate and provide gambling services and rely heavily on the ensuing revenue. Recent developments have seen the Commonwealth take a more active role in this area.

The rapid adoption of new communications and technologies by gambling industries has attracted their interest. This is an area which falls within its constitutional responsibilities. The development of online gambling has significant implications for regulatory mechanisms, revenue collection and community welfare.

This has prompted the Federal Government to pass legislation that stops Australian Internet gambling sites from providing services to Australians. However, it doesn’t make it illegal for Australians to gamble online.

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The Interactive Gambling Act 2001

In 2001, the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) was enforced with an eye towards curbing the perceived negative impacts of online gambling in Australia. Technical loopholes arose, and Australia had no choice but to make changes to the law to protect those at risk of online gambling. Operators were the target of the act.

  • They were unable to advertise “real money” interactive online gambling to Australian residents. Australians were and still are free to play at online casinos located and licensed outside the country.
  • Also, Australian-based companies could offer gambling services to players abroad. This is as long as it wasn’t in a so-called “designated country”.
  • The IGA specified that as long as the operator was unaware, with due diligence, that they were offering their games to Aussie residents, they would be clear of wrongdoing. This led to operators putting alerts, warnings and address checks in place before sign up.
  • Several loopholes over the following decade, including punters using their mobile phone to place their wager during a live event. This lead to the revival of the bill.
  • The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 was passed. This prohibited online casino gaming, even if the casino is Australian. Players won’t receive penalties when gambling at unlicensed casino sites.
  • One of the first questions asked by punters is: Is online poker legal in Australia? For now, poker was also recently deemed illegal in Australia. Local players found themselves in the same boat as their American counterparts on that front.
  • Sports betting and online lotteries still remain legal. There are small amendments put in place to penalise “click-to-call” betting. And unlicensed offshore betting companies offering bets to Australians.

Are Your Winnings Taxable in Australia?

In Australia, it is the gambling operators that pay tax, not the players. There are no situations in which Australian players pay any income tax on their winnings. The federal government views this as income from a hobby and the result of luck.

The amount of tax the operators pay depends on the type of game. Also, on the location of the poker machines or casinos. These operator taxes vary from state to state. Another way casinos pay taxes is on the gambling license they need to acquire from the government in order to operate.

The only fees or charges a player might encounter when playing an online casino. These could be fees to withdraw or deposit money into international casino sites. And/or when converting the Australians dollar into the website’s preferred currency.

What is the Best Poker Platform for Online Play in Australia?

Ignition Poker is our recommenced site for Australian citizens looking to play online poker. They offer great bonuses, plenty of poker variations and secure banking options. Ignition opened their virtual doors in 2016, and have quickly earned the respect of poker players and the top Australian poker site. Their access to one of the largest poker rooms in the world means players can find a game 24/7.

Another great poker site for Aussie players is Juicy Stakes. They have plenty of poker variations and bonus offers for players, including a no deposit bonus. One thing that separates Juicy Stakes from the competition is the incredible 36% Rakeback it extends.

What Exactly Does the IGA Do?

The Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) does not make it an offence for individual Australians to gamble online. Instead, it targets companies that provide online gaming and gambling. And makes it illegal to provide web-based gambling services to customers in Australia.

The IGA prohibits companies domestic and foreign from marking or providing online poker to Australians.

While that was enough to keep Australian firms from trying to start Internet poker sites, it did little to discourage most foreign operators from staying out of the market.

Sites from around the world have offered poker games to Australians without interruption. And with no real push back from the Australian government, Australian law doesn’t make it illegal for players to play poker on the web. Millions of players across the country have still been able to play poker (or other casino games) online each year with foreign organisations. These operators are in Europe, the Caribbean and elsewhere.

More recently, a review of the IGA suggested stopping the flow of money out of Australia. Australian companies should be able to receive licenses to operate their own online poker rooms in the country. This would give Australians the option of playing on locally regulated and licensed sites. However, it appears gambling expansion and trials of online poker licensing does not have the political support for the go-ahead any time soon.

The Interactive Gambling Act 2017 Reforms

There have been recent changes to the Interactive Gambling Act, most recently in 2017. The law changes seek to combat groups from outside Australia providing illegal gambling services over the internet.

The following reforms include:

  • The Australian Communications and Media Authority publishing a register of Australian-licensed interactive wagering service providers
  • Some operators were unable to offer or enable lines of credit to Australians
  • The addition of new tools to make people follow the rules set out
  • Directors and principals of offending companies can be referred to the Australian Border Force.

ACMA reports that in the 12 months since the reforms, 33 prominent online wagering providers withdrew from Australia. The National Consumer Protection Framework was implemented to protect problem gamblers. There were 10 measures put in place. These include people being able to add themselves to a register that prevents access to all interactive betting services. And to choose to set a limit before they start responsible gambling. Wagering on fantasy sports has become more popular in the past decade. And this reflects with corporate bookmakers offering markets in this area. Betting on fantasy sports in Australia is licensed in the Northern Territory. With the Northern Territory Racing Commission and Licensing NT the relevant regulatory body.

Australia’s federal interactive gambling laws continue to prohibit the following:

  • Online casinos, slot machines and poker;
  • Online wagering services that accept ‘in-play’ betting on live sports events;
  • Wagering services provided online without a licence issued by an Australian state or territory;
  • Online instant lotteries; and
  • Providing or facilitating the provision of credit by certain interactive wagering service providers to their customers.
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