Simon’s Guide to Online Gambling in Australia
Gambling and online gambling laws in Australia are quite complex.
Land-based gambling regulation is mainly under the jurisdiction of individual states and territories, although the Commonwealth has been taking more of an active role lately.
On the other hand, the legal status of online gambling in Australia is regulated wholly by the Australian Commonwealth. The most important law regarding online gambling in Australia is the Interactive Gambling Act, passed by the Parliament in 2001.
The Interactive Gambling Act* makes offering real-money online interactive gambling services to Australian players illegal, as well as advertising such services. Interactive gambling services include online poker, online casino games and sports wagering during the event itself (betting beforehand is permitted).
As a result, Australia-based companies may not offer online gambling services to Australian residents, however they may (and do) serve players from outside the country. It is also technically illegal for offshore online gambling platforms to serve Australian people, but this restriction has had practically no effect so far. There are no regulations in place that would make it illegal for Australian players themselves to participate in any form of online gambling, free or real-money.
Any site offering free games to Australians: legal
Australian site offering real-money games to Australians: illegal
Australian site offering free and real-money games to foreigners: legal
Offshore site offering real-money games to Australians: technically illegal, no countermeasures
The reason for the stricter regulation was to protect the Australian people from the negative effects of online gambling. “Problem gambling” is a serious social issue in Australia: about 80% of the Australian population participates in some form of gambling. About 500 000 locals are at severe risk of becoming problem gamblers, adversely affecting not only themselves, but their families as well.**
The positive effects of the Interactive Gaming Act are somewhat questionable: the most problematic form of gambling in Australia is video poker, or “pokies”. One in six gamblers who play such machines regularly has a serious addiction. The Interactive Gaming Act has done little to thwart the use of pokies, as video poker machines may still be played legally at the numerous land-based gambling establishments in Australia.
**Source: Problem Gambling (Australian Government)
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- Casino gambling in Australia
- Bingo in Australia
- Poker in Australia
- Sports betting in Australia
- Lottery in Australia
- Bitcoin gambling in Australia
- Online gambling websites accepting players from Australia
Casino gambling in Australia
Online casino gambling in Australia: legal to play, illegal to offer real-money games for Australians
Online casino gambling laws in Australia are regulated on a federal level. In 2001 the Parliament of the Commonwealth of Australia passed an online gambling law called the Interactive Gaming Act. In accordance with the act, it is legal for Australian players to participate in any form of online casino gambling, but no real-money online casino games are to be offered within Australia.
The act has mostly affected Australia-based online casino sites. These websites may still operate legally, but are not allowed to offer any real-money games to Australian players, nor advertise such services in Australia. Australian online casino sites can legally offer real-money games to players from abroad.
Offshore online casino sites are available to Australian players, including real-money casino games. However, they too fall under the Interactive Gaming Act, and offering such services is technically illegal.
The Australian government has made little effort to prevent Australian players from accessing international online casino sites, although promises have been made by the Liberal Party. Still, to this point, no foreign online gambling operator has been prosecuted for offering real-money online casino games to Australians.
Bingo in Australia
Online Bingo in Australia: legal to play, illegal to offer real-money games for Australians
Online Bingo is regulated by the same online gambling laws in Australia as online casino games. Playing online Bingo – or “housie”, as it is called in Australia – is legal for all Australian players. Online Bingo operators may legally offer free Bingo games, but real-money services and advertisement of such activities are forbidden.
Offshore online gambling operators are also banned from offering real-money Bingo games to Australian residents by the Interactive Gaming Act, but no foreign online gambling operators have been prosecuted under these premises. As a result, Australian Bingo players flock to foreign online gambling operators.
Poker in Australia
Online Poker in Australia: legal to play, illegal to offer real-money games for Australians
Poker of all sorts is very popular in Australia, but a distinction needs to be made between to forms of games considered Poker in the country.
Video poker machines, or pokies (essentially slot machines), are extremely prevalent in Australia: the country has several times more of them than the US. Apart from machines at land-based casinos and gambling establishments, pokies are also available on several online gambling sites.
This popularity of pokies was mainly what led to the Interactive Gaming Act, as one in six pokie players show severe addiction. According to the law, offering real money video poker services to Australian players is now illegal. Physical video poker machines may still be operated legally, so problem gambling in Australia doesn’t seem to have dramatically decreased as the result of the act.
The other form of Poker, also enjoyed throughout Australia, is table Poker. Live Poker games are legally available in casinos and Poker halls. Offering real-money Poker games on the other hand is illegal for Australian and foreign online gambling sites alike.
To date, no offshore online gambling sites have been prosecuted for offering online Poker to Australian residents. Australian players may freely and legally access international online Poker sites – the rakes are actually lower than at Australian sites for tax reasons.
Sports betting in Australia
Online sports betting in Australia: legal (except for in-play betting)
The legal status of online sports betting is somewhat different from the regulation of other forms of online gambling. Sports betting is legal in the country and available at several brick and mortar betting shops and retailers. It is also legal for Australian players to participate in any form of sports betting they wish.
The legal situation is somewhat more complex when it comes to operators. The 2001 gambling law, the Interactive Gaming Act bans the offering of real-money online interactive gambling services to Australian players. Hence, Australian online sports betting platforms may not offer any live – that is, in-play – wagering to Australian gamblers. However, betting before the start of the game is not considered interactive, and may be offered legally online or offline.
According to the Interactive Gaming Act, offering real-money in-play sports betting services to Australian players is also forbidden for foreign online gambling operators. However, most offshore sports betting platforms are either ignorant of the regulation, or knowingly ignore it, and to date no such companies have been prosecuted for offering real-money gambling services to Australian players.
Lottery in Australia
Online lottery in Australia: legal, except for instant-win
Operating lotteries is legal in Australia, and there are several companies offering various lottery games including TattsLotto, Powerball, scratchcards and Keno. Most of the lottery companies of Australia, including Tatts currently operating the Australian national lottery, have online platforms.
Online lotteries are legal in Australia in the sense that lottery tickets may be bought online. The sale of instant-win products such as scratchcards on the other hand are considered interactive gaming, and are banned by the Interactive Gaming Act.
There are no laws in Australia prohibiting the buying of even instant-win scratchcards online for Australian players. As foreign companies are often ignorant of the distinction, international lottery sites are a safe way for Australian players, should they wish to purchase such scratchcards.
Bitcoin gambling in Australia
Bitcoin gambling in Australia: legal to play, possibly legal to operate as well
The Australian gambling law, the Interactive Gaming Act prohibits operators from offering real-money games to Australian players. Using Bitcoin is legal in the country, and is considered property, meaning all transactions made in Bitcoin are considered barter.
As a result, while not specifically regulated, online gambling operators may be able to circumvent the gambling laws in Australia by using Bitcoins for transactions. Either way, Australian players may freely and legally participate in Bitcoin gambling, as there are no gambling laws in Australia restricting them from accessing any sort of games.
Online gambling websites accepting players from Australia
The following websites accept players from Australia.
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Last updated: 2015. 10. 15