Simon’s Guide to Land-based and Online Casinos in Australia
This is a guide to brick and mortar as well as online casinos in Australia. Find out what the best casinos and online casino sites are in Australia, or learn more about the legal status of casino gambling in the country. This article supplements the general guide to the legal status of gambling in Australia.
Online casinos in Australia
The regulation of casino gambling in Australia is the jurisdiction of individual states. Online casino gambling, on the other hand, is regulated on a federal level, which applies to all states. The legal status of online casinos in Australia is quite complex. The law regulating online casino gambling is the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001.*
In accordance with this law, interactive gambling means, among others, gambling services provided to costumers using an internet carriage service. The Interactive Gamlbing Act also states that gambling includes not only games of pure chance, but games of mixed chance and skill as well (e.g. poker).
The Interactive Gambling Act prohibits offering any real-money online gambling services to residents of Australia. (Free games are still allowed.) Advertising real-money gambling is prohibited as well. This applies, most of all, to online casinos in Australia. It is also technically illegal for online casinos in other countries to offer their services to Australian players, but the government has taken no measures against this form of online casino gambling.
With all the prohibitions, it might be surprising that it is perfectly legal for Australian gamblers to play on international online casino sites. They are, of course, advised not to, but face no adverse consequences should they choose to gamble in offshore online casinos. Online casino gambling sites are not blocked by ISPs, and many online casinos welcome Australian players.
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Online casinos accepting players from Australia
Here’s a selection of online casinos I’ve tried and recommend wholeheartedly. Choose from these trustworthy online casinos available in Australia, or read on to find out more about the legal status and future of gambling and casinos in Australia!
Other forms of online gambling in Australia
Online gambling is legal in Australia in the sense that locals are free to play on any online gambling site available to them; it is only online gambling operators who are restricted from allowing Australians to play on their sites. This leaves plenty of offshore online casinos to choose from. However, that is not the only option for Australian gamblers looking to play online.
While it is illegal to offer online casino gambling services to Australian residents, online sports betting has a different legal status. Sports betting operators may legally offer their services within the country, as long as they comply with gambling regulations and acquire the necessary permits.
The reason for the lack of prohibition on online sports betting lies in the wording of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. Often considered to be Australia’s online gambling regulation, it does not ban all forms of online gambling, but rather interactive gambling. Sports betting is not considered interactive if bets are made prior to the sports event, which means only “live”, in-play betting is prohibited. Still, it is not illegal for Australian gamblers to wager on sport events through international online sports betting sites, should they wish for more variety.
The legal status of online lottery games is by and large the same as that of online sports betting. Australian lotteries – of which there are quite a few – may legally sell lottery tickets online. However, it is illegal to offer “instant win” games such as scratchcards online, as that is considered interactive gambling.
Gambling has been one of the most popular pastimes in Australia since the 1700s. An estimated 80% of all Australian adults partake in some form of gambling. The government has been trying to restrict Australians’ access to gambling for many years, albeit with little success. The reasoning behind the stricter gambling regulation of the recent years (namely the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act) is to hamper problem gambling in the country.
According to government estimates, problem gambling affects about 500 000 Australians, as well as their families.* The most important form of gambling in Australia is, in this regard, video poker – or as it is locally called, pokies. One in six people regularly playing with video poker machines is considered to be seriously addicted to the game. With Australia’s high gambling rate, this is an especially urgent matter.
Still, there are doubts whether the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 reached its goal. At the moment, there are over 2000 online casino sites freely available to Australian players. Offering online gambling services to players from Australia is technically against the country’s gambling regulations, but the government lacks the means to ban these sites. As a result, it seems that the Australian government has given up revenues from taxing online casinos, while not helping problem gamblers by much.
Land-based casinos in Australia
It is also hard to get players to quit gambling when only the online version is – more or less – banned. There is a federal casino regulation, the Casino Control Act of 2006, which applies to the whole country. This law states that it is legal to operate casinos, as long as they comply with the appropriate regulation. Traditional, land-based casino gambling is, unlike online casinos, regulated on the level of individual states. All territories have their own regulating bodies supervising gambling and issuing licences within their area.
In accordance with the federal law, casino gambling is legal in all Australian states. There is at least one larger casino to be found in all territories, along with several smaller gambling establishments. The most popular form of gambling is video poker, which makes up about half of the gambling opportunities in Australia, but many table games are available as well.
The largest casino in Sidney, the capital is the Star casino, offering many table games such as Mini Baccarat, Blackjack, Caribbean Stud, Craps, Pai Gow, Poker, Pontoon, Roulette, Rapid Roulette, Sic Bo and Three card poker. The wide variety of games reflects the Australians’ love for gambling.
The future of casinos in Australia
It is apparent that, though gambling in Australia is thoroughly regulated, gambling laws did not have the desired effect on problem gambling and the Australian casino industry. There have been many calls for a reform of gambling regulation.
There have been news of a strange turn of events regarding the legal status of ganbling, specifically pokies, in Australia. The firm Maurice Blackburn is said to be looking into taking legal action against video poker machines in the whole country. Their claim is that these machines were designed to be deceitful and addictive, which makes them inherently illegal. *
While pokies definitely constitute a risk to the Australian society through their addictive nature, some consider these legal claims to be utter nonsense. “That’s like saying that a car is designed to run out of petrol, or a car is designed to exceed the speed limit – it’s just not true.” – stated chief executive of Gamin Technologies Australia, Ross Ferrar.
We have yet to see the results of targeting video poker machines in this way. Should Australia succeed in diminishing problem gambling and its adverse consequences, the country may adopt a more liberal view regarding online gambling.
There have been initiatives to override the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, already considered to be outdated. A five year trial period of permitting online poker in Australia was proposed but promptly denied as well. As Senator Conroy stated, a nationwide standard for consumer protection is necessary prior to the legalisation of online casino gambling in Australia.**
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Online bingo sites – Australia (coming soon)
Online poker sites – Australia (coming soon)
Online sportsbooks sites – Australia (coming soon)
Online lottery, keno sites and scratch cards – Australia (coming soon)
Bitcoin casinos – Australia (coming soon)
Simon’s Guide to Land-based and Online Casinos in Australia is part of Simon’s Online Casino Guide.
Last updated: 2015. 11. 09.