Australians love gambling! They are among the world’s biggest gamblers, according to The Economist. An average Australian spends thousands of dollars on online gambling every year.
Online casinos and other internet gambling sites are doing quite well in Australia, growing at 15% every year. There are a number of brick and mortar casinos in Australia which offer a mix of poker, slot machines, table and electronic games.
But the laws in Australia have not always been encouraging towards online casinos. The 2001 Interactive Gambling Act strictly prohibited gambling operators from running offshore casinos in Australia. But there were no laws against players participating in offshore casinos. Things have changed a bit since then, let’s see how.
Gambling Regulation in Australia
Gambling regulations in Australia are undertaken by the Central government, which has the final authority, as well as by a number of organizations and regional authorities at the state and territorial level. Here’s a list of the organizations that are involved in gambling regulation in Australia along with the jurisdictions controlled by them.
*Australian Broadcasting Authority – Internet Gambling across Australia, with a focus on advertising and marketing regulations.
*ACT Gambling and Racing Commission – Australian Capital Territory
*Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation – Victoria
*Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing – New South Wales
*Tasmanian Gaming Commission – Tasmania
*Licensing Commission – Northern Territory
*Independent Gambling Authority – South Australia
*Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation – Queensland
*Department of Racing, Gaming, and Liquor – Western Australia
The Interactive Gambling Act 2001
The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 was passed by the Australian Parliament in 2001. This was a landmark legislation at that time, which made it impossible for online gambling operators to operate in the country. The goal was to protect ordinary Aussies from the harmful effects of gambling.
This law prohibited the setting up of any online gambling site or online casino which involved the exchange of real money. It also prohibited any advertising or marketing by online gaming operators. A fine of $220,000 per day for individuals and $1.1 million per day for companies were levied if they were found to violate this law.
But there was a fine print – The Australia based gambling sites were free to offer their services to foreign countries outside of the borders of Australia. There were many loopholes in this law, which were taken advantage of by players and gambling operators.
Changes to the Interactive Gambling Act
Nobody liked the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 as it was too restrictive. A number of changes were made to this Act in 2016. The government felt at that time that Australia’s potential as top online gambling hub was undermined by this law.
Alan Tudge, the Minister of Human Services in the Australian government, set about transforming this law single-handedly. He made a number of revisions to the 2001 law, which came into effect in 2017 as the Interactive Gambling Bill 2016. Let’s find out what this means for you.
The Interactive Gambling Bill 2016
The Interactive Gambling Bill 2016 has made it clear that it is perfectly legal for Australians to access or use online gambling sites. There are no restrictions on individuals who want to gamble online for money. You can choose from a number of overseas casino operators that cater to the Australian internet gambling community.
However, online casinos are not regulated in Australia. So if you were to get into a dispute with an online casino operator, the Australian authorities will not come to your aid – you are pretty much on your own.
Apart from that, it has to be said that Australia has very reasonable taxation laws on gambling. Any act of gambling such as playing at a casino, sports betting, lottery, or for that matter anything else is seen as a completely recreational activity. So your winnings are not subject to any taxes. That is certainly something most people in the online gambling community would appreciate.