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Australian Online Gambling Laws

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

Last Updated Thu, Jun 11, 3:44am


Australian online gambling laws and policy 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 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.

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 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 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 remain legal. There are small amendments put in place to penalise “click-to-call” betting. And unlicensed offshore betting companies offering bets to Australians.

Is Online Gambling Legal in Australia?

Part of the Interactive Gambling Act shows that there are some forms of online gambling allowed to operate. The regulation of gambling operations works 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 pokie machines are legal for local players to access and have a large market in Australia. Brick-and-mortar pokie machines exist at casinos, pubs and clubs. And are the subject of fierce tender battles when new licenses become available. Australians gamble more than any other nationality in the world, and a lot of this gambling takes place through pokie machines.

Online Poker is one of the most popular games at Australian casinos. But operating online poker sites in Australia is illegal.
It is illegal to provide an online casino to Australian players or provide gambling games for real money. Examples of these games are roulette, baccarat, video poker, blackjack and craps. Basically, any game that can be described as a mix of chance and skill. However, it is not illegal for players to partake in these games.

Online Bingo is legal in Australia. And some casinos offer computer-simulated bingo games. Some online lotteries are illegal in Australia. But players can play Keno and buy local lotto tickets. Australians can also bet on the outcome of lotteries. Although this practice has been the subject of controversy in recent times. Online instant lotteries are forbidden, but betting on the outcome of financial simulations or the probability of numbers is not.

Is Legal Online Gambling In Australia A Federal or State/Territory Responsibility?

Gambling laws are federally legislated and enforced and legislated locally, by and large.

The ACT Racing and Gambling Commission is an independent statutory authority. They are 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 Liquor and 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 Liquor and Gaming Commission regulates and controls gaming in Tasmania.

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation 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.

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. And 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. 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. These operators are 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, to prevent Australians from playing on foreign sites. some legislators proposed that Australia pass a law like 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 unsuccessful. As banks pointed out that given the fully legal nature of many online gambling transactions in Australia. It would be too difficult to put in place any such scheme.

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.