All popular forms of gambling are widely available in Australia and for the most part are legal. While there are restrictions on what operators can offer, how adults spend their own money is not covered in our gambling laws. For example: Australian companies cannot offer online pokies, but players in most states can play these games legally using foreign betting websites.
In this article I cover the Australian gambling market in-depth. This starts with online gambling history and laws, followed by the largest sections that provide information on a state by state basis (including AU territories). Finally, I conclude with information about income taxes for Australian gamblers.
Online Betting History and Laws
When the internet was brand new there was no Australian Commonwealth law related to online betting. Northern Territory had been licensing brick and mortar bookmakers since 1993 and had no objection to their licensees offering online sports betting. It was from here the first Australian hosted sports betting sites came online beginning in 1996.
In early 1997, development for what would become Australia’s first regulated online casino began. This was a company called Lasseters Online who also operated a brick and mortar casino. Their internet project cost an estimated $5 million and took 135 man years to complete. It went online in April 1999 following the passing of the Northern Territory Gaming Control (Internet Gaming) Act the same month. This was the first online casino licensed in Australia.
In its first year Lasseters Online attracted almost 3,000 depositing players from 92 countries. In Australia they only accepted players from Northern Territory at the request of their gambling commission. This was to give the Commonwealth Government time to decide on a national approach to internet gambling. They finally did so when the Commonwealth Parliament passed the Interactive Gambling Act (2001), also known IGA, on 28 June 2001.
Interactive Gambling Act (2001) – IGA
IGA made it illegal for Australian companies to offer online gambling such as casino games, online poker, and bingo. However, existing operators were grandfathered in. This allowed Lasseters Online to continue to operate legally. They did so until their closing on October 8, 2008. It was the fact they had a substantial US player base until the United States gambling laws changed in late 2006, that eventually did their company in. Current as of the time of this article (2013) there are no legal online casinos or poker sites operating from Australia.
It is important to understand that IGA did not change the laws for players. Royalvegascasino.com is a reputable online casino offering pokies (slots), blackjack, roulette, craps, baccarat and other games that offers Australian dollar (AUD) accounts. Although they themselves are in violation of Australia law, simply put – our authorities have no jurisdiction over them. They are licensed in the European Union and certified by reputable auditors such a eCogra. It is entirely legal for Australians of most states to use their website. The same is true for online poker; using Pokerstars.com is no problem for Australians.
Online Sports and Horse Race Betting is Legal
IGA allowed online sports betting and horse race betting to remain largely a state by state issue. The only major exception is live-in play betting is banned. This is viewed as more addicting and of similar nature to online casino play. There has however been much recent talk about loosening IGA restrictions to make live betting and certain casino games available. This is a slow process and is not guaranteed. Should it occur, we’ll update this page.
The following websites are operated domestically by Aussie companies and are legal to use for betting sports and horse races online.
The value that can be found betting online as opposed to with bookmakers, tabs and pubs in person is significant. Take for example horse racing – most our bookmakers offer a guaranteed best dividend. If you place a bet at fixed odds and any of the three major totes (TAB, SuperTAB and TattsBet) come in higher you’ll be paid the higher price. Also www.bet365.com.au offers players a 100% up to $200 initial deposit match as a cash (as opposed to free play) bonus. There are many additional promotions available that result in players getting better odds online than when having a punt at a local pub or tab.