Australia has the highest rate of gambling in the world, with over 80% of adults taking part in some form of gambling. It is estimated that 7 out of 10 Australians gamble at least once a year, betting, buying a lottery ticket or spending evening at a local casino. H2 Gambling Capital, a UK consultancy company, estimated that in 2013 Australian citizens lost over $18 billion, which is the equivalent to $1,037 per citizen.
This love of gambling can be traced back to the 1990s, when Australia saw a rise in mega-casinos across the country. For example, Sydney’ Star City Resort is estimated to cover the size of seven soccer fields. Unlike many other countries, online gambling in Australia is legal and very popular. It was estimated that online and phone betting in Australia reached approximately $12 billion in 2013.
Licensing & Legalities
Australian Government passed the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) on the 28th June 2001. Although operating an online casino had been legal before this time in the country, the IGA 2001 was an attempt to protect the citizens from harmful effects of online gambling. It covered all interactive gambling services, both Australian and internationally owned and regardless of whether it was located in Australia or offshore, as well all other aspects of online gambling.
The law states that it is not illegal to run an online casino in Australia, and such companies can offer interactive gaming to other country’s residents. However, the IGA does forbid the use of real money online interactive gambling services by Australian citizens. It also prohibits the promotion of real money interactive gambling services to Australian citizens. Services covered by this regulation include in-play online sports betting and internet games such as roulette, blackjack, and poker.
The IGA 2001 also provides a formal complaints system that is managed by the Australian Broadcasting Authority. Under this system, Australian citizens can register any concerns regarding the advertising of interactive gambling products. This is a further step in empowering the citizens to reduce the potential harmful effects of gambling.
The penalties for breaking these laws are high:
- $220,000 per day for individuals of an online gambling operation for advertising and marketing services to Australians
- $1.1 million per day for the company for advertising and marketing services to Australians
- Gambling operators are responsible for adhering to the IGA 2001 regulations, that means Australians cannot be penalized for gambling online
Even with these strict laws and harsh penalties, Aussies are not prevented from placing online bets, and offshore operators successfully advertize themselves to the Australian market. Although such companies are violating the IGA 2001 rules, there have been no serious investigations or prosecutions.
For online lottery services, licensed providers such as OzLotteries.com are allowed to offer their services and products over the Internet to Australian citizens, but are prohibited from providing instant-win scratch cards. For sports betting sites, bets need to be placed before the start of an event, which means there are no longer ‘interactive’ bets.
Live betting, also called in-play wagering, or ‘in the run’ betting, is the act of betting on a sporting event that has already started. Live betting is more popular in Europe than Australia, estimated to account for 90% of bets on tennis, cricket and football.
The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 prohibits live, in-play betting as it is regarded as ‘interactive’. This is in contrast to America where sports betting is popular and legal. Due to the restrictions placed by the IGA, there are no large Australian bookmakers providing live online betting to Australian residents. However, it is possible to place in-play wagers through licensed bookmakers but only over the phone.
Australians are not breaking the law by placing live bets online as it is the responsibility of the gambling operator to abide by the IGA 2001. Therefore, many of them continue to enjoy live online betting, as provided by offshore operations, many of whom are unaware that they are in violation of the national laws.
Online regulation in Australia
The Australian government regulates both the offline and online betting industry across the country. The gambling industry has also been governed by State and Territory authorities, which have its committee with particular sets of rules. The authorities and committees are:
- Australian Capital Territory – ACT Gambling and Racing Commission
- Northern Territory – Licensing Commission
- New South Wales – New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming, and Racing
- Tasmania – Tasmanian Gaming Commission
- Queensland – Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation
- South Australia – Independent Gambling Authority
- Western Australia – Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor
- Victoria – Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation
Popular casino games
- Poker – In Australia, poker machines are the most popular type of gambling, so, online poker is a huge market. Poker machines are the most popular gambling choice for young Australians aged 18-24 years. You may hear Australians refer to this more lovingly as pokies or the slots. As stated by the IGA 2001, running an interactive online poker site is illegal. However, Australian residents can play at licensed sites that are located out of the country. For example, www.pokerstars.com provides players with real money games and is endorsed by Shane Warne, the Australian famous cricket player. Another popular site visited by many Australians is www.888Poker.com. It is home to many famous games and tournaments such as Sit n Go, Pre-set and Freeroll tournaments.
- Sports Betting – As already mentioned, live betting on sports game is prohibited in Australia by the IGA 2001. However, there are many legally operating companies located in Australia for Aussies to indulge in sports betting. One of the most favorite sites is Sportsbet.com.au. Other offshore-owned sports betting sites include Centrebet.com and Sportsbet.com.au, who can take bets in Australian dollars and has operated since 1993. Australians bet on a variety of sports, including rugby (the National Rugby League) horse racing, football, cricket and big betting events, such as the Australian F1 Grand Prix.
- Online Bingo – Online bingo, also known as Housie, has many advantages over more traditional venues, such as all day and night gameplay, chat facilities and a greater variety games and promotions. Casino Mate, All slots casino, as well as BingoAustralia.com are among the most popular place to play online bingo.
Deposit and payment methods
There are more than enough banking options for the Australian gambling players and they all are proven to be safe and reliable.
- Credit and debit cards – MasterCard, Visa, Maestro, Visa Electron and Visa Delta
- BPAY – A single bill payment service. Using BPAY you can deposit as little as $5 and it takes only 1-3 business days for your money to move between BPAY and the casino.
- e-Wallets – Poli, Ukash, NETELLER, Skrill (previously MoneyBookers). For example, POLi is a real-time online payment system that sets up a link between the online casino and the individual’s bank account, and, therefore, no personal details need to be provided by the player.
- Direct Bank Transfers and Bank Wire Transfers
- Prepaid cards – One more deposit option that must be mentioned. They have values of AU$10, AU$25, AU$50, AU$100.
Australians have welcomed mobile gambling, which is extremely popular in this country today. Due to the overall wagering, there has been a shift in bets placed from the traditional offline venues such as race tracks, retail outlets and telephone services to the online platforms via the web, which includes tablets and smartphones. The online gambling market has grown steadily at about 4-5% per year and Australian online casinos have certainly kept up, offering mobile casino games through the apps.
Though being in great request among Australian players, mobile gambling is still not regulated there. The government tries to control this field. However, no concrete laws have been adopted yet. Alongside the legal online gambling market, which is in full compliance with the IGA 2001, comes the illegal offshore gambling activities. Approximately $2 out of every $3 spent by Australians on online gambling is with illegal foreign providers. Research by H2 Gambling Capital indicated that approximately 15% of Australian expenditure on interactive online betting goes to providers located outside of Australia. This is equivalent to a turnover of around $900 million.
However, there has been a decline in online betting offshore, with the percentage of betting turnover foreign falling from 38% in 2003 to just below 14% in 2011. This movement by Australians to placing wagers with licensed wagering operators from illegal, offshore websites has been in part created by the competition and improved advertising provided by Australian-based wagering and sports betting companies.
Choosing Online Casino
There are some certain features that show whether this or that online casino is safe and reliable. They are:
- A strong security system that protects the personal data from the third party and make it closed for anyone but the gambler.
- Sign-up bonuses should be compared and informative about all the conditions of their usage and acceptance.
- Deposit/ withdrawal options and associated fees, imposed both by the site and the payment processing institution.
- Help and support facilities should be available to help, professional and pleasant to communicate with.
- Good or bad feedbacks from the players.
What laws govern online gambling in Australia?
The Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) passed in 2001 covers all aspects of online gambling. It is not illegal to run an online casino in Australiaб however, the IGA does forbid the use of real money online interactive gambling services by Australian citizens.
How prevalent is offshore illegal gambling in Australia?
It has been estimated that $2 out of every $3 spent by Australians on online gambling is with illegal offshore providers.
Is live betting on sports games allowed in Australia?
No, the IGA 2011 prohibits live sport betting.
What are the most popular sports betting sites in Australia?
Popular sites include Sportsbet.com.au, Centrebet.com, and Sportingbet.com.au.
Can I gamble in an internet cafe?
An internet cafe can provide the players the opportunity to gamble in the public place. The explanatory memorandum provides guidance and examples of such situations.
Australia’s love of gambling has moved into the digital age, increasing the availability and diversity of gambling possibilities. The Australian Government has moved to keep up with this societal change, introducing the Interactive Gambling Act in 2001, with the intention of protecting its citizens from harm.
However, there is still both a gambling problem in Australia, as well as offshore illegal activity that is difficult to monitor. It seems that the future of online gambling in Australia lies in the hands of both the residents and politicians.