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Australian Online Gambling Laws

Tue, Mar 15, 2:43pm by Ethan Anderson

Last Updated Tue, Oct 8, 12:59am

Australia has one of the highest gambling rates in the world with over 80% of the population engaging in some form of gambling. The regulatory climate for live betting has always been favorable while the government has less embraced online gaming.

Today, we’ll cover Australian gambling laws for live and online gambling, including where you can legally gamble in Australia and which forms of online gambling are legal.

Which Forms of Gambling Are Legal?

Every state and territory in Australia has legalized live gambling, and there is at least one casino in each region. Casino gambling offers a wide variety of gambling products ranging from pokies to blackjack and poker. The Crown Melbourne in Victoria is perhaps the most well-known Australian casino in the world thanks to their annual Aussie Millions poker tournament series.

Most territories except for Western Australia allow live gambling in hotels while Victoria, Queensland and New South Wales all offer gaming in local nightclubs. Also, much of Australia offers sports betting, including in-game sports betting.

Organizations That Regulate Gambling In Australia

Most gambling regulation in Australia is made at the state or territorial level rather than by Parliament. Each area handles their regulation and below is a list of the organizations that regulate gambling in each location.

In addition to the above organizations, the Australian Communications and Media Authority is the watchdog of iGaming advertising over Australia. They manage a formal complaint process where citizens can report any advertising violations by operators. They cover all of Australia.

Is Online Gambling Legal in Australia?

Australia was one of the first countries to address the legality of online gambling and did so back in 2001 with the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 (IGA). The law intended to protect the general public from the adverse effects of online gambling.

The law was designed to target online gambling operators. Under the law, it’s illegal to:

  • Offer prohibited interactive gambling products to anyone in Australia
  • Offer unlicensed iGaming products to Australian customers
  • Offer Australian-based iGaming products to other countries

This law prohibits the majority of online gambling ranging from pokies to roulette, blackjack, and online poker. One thing that it does not ban is auto racing and sports betting, provided that betting is not conducted in-game.

Any operator offering services to Australia or from Australia is subject to steep penalties ranging from $220,000 per day for individuals operating the iGaming company to $1.1 million per day for the company itself.

Another exception to the rule is online lotteries. These are illegal except for instant-win scratch cards. These are similar to what you find at online casinos and therefore is not permitted by lottery operators.

The IGA does not presently criminalize placing bets at online gambling sites. There are no penalties for Australians playing at online casinos or online poker sites.

This bill was a significant change in gambling policy for Australia as Parliament mainly stayed out of iGaming legislation. However, with the changing face of online gambling and new technologies being regularly released, they decided to act.

IGA Amendment Bill Further Restricts Markets

In the years following the passage of the IGA, online gambling companies quickly found some loopholes they could exploit to allow in-game betting, primarily by enabling customers to call in their bets over the phone.

Also, specific online gambling sites continued to offer products such as online poker to Australian customers because of certain legal ambiguities in the code. The Australian Parliament decided to take action, and the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 was drafted and ultimately passed.

This bill not only closed the loopholes associated with the law, but also put specific sites such as PokerStars and partypoker on notice as the Australian Communications and Media Authority threatened to share violations by these companies to other licensing bodies, including the New Jersey Division of Gaming Enforcement who controls the iGaming licenses in the state. The DGE promised to impose penalties to the companies that operated in New Jersey and still chose to offer services to Australia. As a result, sites such as PokerStars pulled out of Australia in September 2017.

Legal Gambling in Australia

If you are looking for legal gambling products in Australia, your only option is going to be in live casinos and other licensed businesses such as hotels and nightclubs. Below are the types of games you’ll find across Australia.

  • Casino Gambling – Every state and territory in Australia has at least one live casino with 15 spread out across the country. These casinos offer all of the standard games you’d expect to find such as Blackjack, Baccarat, Roulette, Pai Gow, Pontoon, Big Wheel, Craps, and various poker table game variants. You’ll also find a wide variety of pokies, aka slot games. Several casinos also offer standard poker games such as Texas Hold’em and Omaha Poker.
  • Pokies – Pokies are easily the most popular form of live gambling in Australia. In addition to being offered in casinos, you’ll find them in bars, pubs, and nightclubs throughout the country.
  • Poker – Australia experienced a “Poker Boom” after Joe Hachem won the 2005 World Series of Poker Main Event. While poker was offered in Australia before then, Hachem’s win led to increased demand for Texas Hold’em and many other forms of poker. Casinos that offer poker games generally provide both cash games and poker tournaments. The Crown Casino in Melbourne is the most popular poker room in the country.
  • Housie – Housie is very popular in Australia and commonly used for charity and fundraising events.
  • Lottery – Lottery games are available across Australia, giving players a chance to earn life-changing money with a single ticket. Players can also play instant “scratchies” where players can win money matching codes or numbers. Keno also falls under this category, and there are over 3,600 Keno outlets in Australia.
  • Sports Betting – If you want to bet on games, you’ll find plenty of action in Australia with thousands of sports betting outlets across the nation. You can place a wide variety of bets, including in-game bets.

Can I Get In Trouble For Betting Online?

To make a long story very short, no, you as a player will not get in trouble for gambling at offshore online casinos. They could get in trouble, but you as a player are safe from any prosecution.

Frequently Asked Questions:

Below are common questions we receive about online casino gambling in Australia.

What Forms of Online Gambling Are Legal in Australia?

Presently, the only form of online gambling that’s completely legal in Australia is betting on auto racing, sports betting, and online lottery. Sports betting and betting on auto racing is only legal, provided the betting is not done in-game.

All other forms of online gambling are prohibited in Australia.

Will I Go To Jail Playing Online Casino Games or Poker?

No. Online gambling laws in Australia are targeted at companies, and not those placing bets at sites. It is not illegal for you to bet at an online casino.

Are My Winnings Taxable?

Generally, no they are not. The only exception to this rule is if you are a professional gambler. In this case, your winnings are subject to income tax. Recreational players don’t have to worry about taxes.