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Australian Online Gambling Laws

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

Last Updated Sat, Feb 8, 1:08am


Australian online gambling laws and policy in Australia has 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 technologies by gambling industries has attracted their interest, as 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 promoted the Federal Government to pass legislation that stops Australian Internet gambling sites from providing services to Australians, but it doesn’t make it illegal for Australians to gamble online.

The Interactive Gambling Act

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 online casinos located and licensed outside the country. In addition, 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 cleared of wrongdoing. This led to operators putting alerts, warnings and address checks in place before sign up.

A number of loopholes over the following decade, including punters using their mobile phone to place their wager during a live event caused the bill to be revived. The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 was passed, which prohibited online casino gaming, even if the casino is legally licensed by a reputable offshore gambling jurisdiction.

Australian players won’t be penalised when gambling at unlicensed casino sites though. Online poker was also recently deemed illegal in Australia. Local players found themselves in the same boat as their American counterparts.

Sports betting and lotteries remain legal, with small amendments put in place to penalised “click-to-call” betting and unlicensed offshore betting companies offering bets to Australians.

Is Online Gambling Legal in Australia?

Parts of the Interactive Gambling Act show that not all kinds of web-based gambling operations are forbidden. The regulation of gambling operations is executed at two levels. First, there is the Federal Government that regulates the industry. The second level is gambling regulation by the state and territory authorities.

Online slot machines are legal for local players to access and have a large market in Australia. Poker is one of the most popular games at Australian casinos, but operating interactive poker websites in Australia is forbidden.

Bingo is legal in Australia and there are casinos that offer computer simulated bingo games. Some online lotteries are banned in Australia, but players are able to play Keno and buy local lotto tickets.

Is Gambling Legislated Federally or By the State/Territory?

Gambling laws are legislated federally and enforced and legislated locally, by and large. The ACT Racing and Gambling Commission is an independent statutory authority responsible for controlling and regulating all gaming, racing and betting activities in the ACT.

The NSW Department of Gaming and Racing is responsible for the proper conduct and balanced development of gaming, racing, liquor and charity industries in NSW. The Racing and Gaming Authority administers gambling legislation in the NT. The NT Gaming Machine Commission is responsible for licensing gaming machines.

The Queensland Office of Gaming Regulation regulates gaming, casinos, art unions, lotteries and keno in Queensland. The Gaming Supervisory Authority is responsible for ensuring that there is effective supervision of the operations of casino and gaming licensees in South Australia. It is the function of the Office of the Liquor and Gaming Commissioner to provide the supervision of licensees.

The Tasmanian Gaming Commission regulates and controls gaming in Tasmania

The Victorian Casino and Gaming Authority regulates and monitors Victoria’s gambling activities.

The Office of Racing, Gaming and Liquor administers WA legislation dealing with these areas and carries out many of the operational functions of the Gaming Commission. This includes the provision of licensing, inspection and audit functions in respect of both casino and permitted gaming services.

Do These Gambling Laws Change If You Are Playing On Your Mobile?

These laws apply to playing casino games or sports betting on your mobile. There are mobile-compatible gambling sites based board that you can access through web browsers.

Are There Different Gambling Laws for Sports Betting and Casino Games?

There are thousands of sports betting retail outlets in Australia that provide local players with the opportunity to bet. There are a number of certified Australian-owned bookies that offer local customers the chance to try their luck in sports, racing and other events offered by these providers.

These are all deemed permissible, both online and on mobile devices. Online slot machines are legal for local players to access and have a large market in Australia.

Are Your Winnings Taxable in Australia?

In Australia, it is the gambling operators that are charged tax, not the players. The amount of tax the operators pay depends on the type of game. Also, on the location of the poker machines or casinos.

There is no tax to pay for online Australian players either, despite a few online Australian casinos in operation.

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

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

Intertops is our recommended online poker room for Australians.

Way back in 1996, Intertops started taking bets on the internet. As you’d expect from a company that has over 20 years in the online betting industry they have a reputation second to none when it comes to facilitating quick and secure deposit and withdrawal options.

What Exactly Does the IGA Do?

The IGA does not make it an offence for individual Australians to gamble online. Instead, it targets the companies that provide online poker, and makes it illegal to provide Web-based gambling services to customers in Australia. Companies both domestic and foreign are prohibited from marketing 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 since the IGA was passed. Since 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 based in Europe, the Caribbean and elsewhere.

What Recent Legal Developments Affect the Situation?

In recent years, several developments have made it seem as though the online poker situation in Australia might go through some changes – though it now appears more likely that the status quo will remain intact for some time to come.

First, in an effort to prevent Australians from so easily playing on foreign sites, some legislators proposed that Australia pass a law similar to the UIGEA laws in the United States. These laws would target banks, making it illegal for them to process online gambling transactions. However, these efforts were quickly defeated, as banks pointed out that given the fully legal nature of many online gambling transactions in Australia (such as those for lotteries and at sports betting sites), it would be too difficult to implement any such scheme.

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More recently, a review of the IGA suggested in order to stop 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 to be given the go ahead any time soon.