Australia has yet to fully embrace online gambling. It has made progress when compared to the United States, but is far behind European countries.
The main form of legislation that covers online gambling in Australia is the Interactive Gambling Act. It was enacted in 2001. The Act only covers the actions of companies offering gambling, not players. Australia law forbids the marketing of unregulated online forms of gambling. No such law covers the action of players at gaming sites.
Sports betting, racing and lotteries are the only forms of online gambling that are legal under the Interactive Gambling Act. There are restrictions on what companies may spread in terms of games.
Which online gambling games are legal in Australia?
[toc]There are no legal restrictions on the games available to players. Online poker, blackjack, craps, roulette, slots, video poker and table games that include cards are all legal to play. Companies that offer these games may not advertise to Australian residents. This means that no licensed sites spread poker and casino games.
The main internet games specifically permitted by law to Australian betting shops involve sports and racing. Traditional pari-mutuel betting on horses is legal for online betting. Sports wagers that involve straight bets, parlays, teasers and futures are also completely legal. The only sports betting niche not legal under the Interactive Gambling Act in on-play.
Interactive Gambling Act
Australia passed the Interactive Gambling Act in 2001. The country enacted this law to deal with the explosion of online gambling during that era. The Interactive Gambling Act banned companies from marketing online poker and casino games. It effectively barred Australian gaming companies from accepting players from within the country for those services.
(1) For the purposes of this Act, an excluded wagering service is:
(a) a service to the extent to which it relates to betting on, or on a series of, any or all of the following:
(i) a horse race;
(ii) a harness race;
(iii) a greyhound race;
(iv) a sporting event;
(b) a service to the extent to which it relates to betting on:
(i) an event; or
(ii) a series of events; or
(iii) a contingency;
that is not covered by paragraph (a).
Australian gambling sites are specifically permitted to offer poker and casino games to players outside of the country. The main condition of this exclusion is that these sites must add other countries to the excluded list upon request from the government.
This did little to prevent online gambling in Australia. Online poker and casino sites located outside the country entered it and accepted Australian players. This annoyed local betting shops that were unable to accept players at restricted games from inside the country.
Australian betting companies are permitted to enter sports betting and racing. Those forms of gaming have a long history of popularity in Australia. Companies that operate bricks-and-mortar shops may accept online sports wagers.
The only exception to the online sports betting exemption is in-play betting. This is where bets are placed on games that are in-progress. This type of wager is illegal over the Internet in Australia, as noted in the quoted law below. They are accepted in person and over the phone. This restriction does not seem to apply to “Click to call” apps that basically provide a workaround to the online restriction by using voice instead of clicks to place wagers.
(1A) Subsection (1) does not apply to a service unless such other conditions (if any) as are specified in the regulations have been satisfied.
(2) Paragraphs (1)(a) and (b) do not apply to a service to the extent to which:
(a) the service relates to betting on the outcome of a sporting event, where the bets are placed, made, received or accepted after the beginning of the event; or
(b) the service relates to betting on a contingency that may or may not happen in the course of a sporting event, where the bets are placed, made, received or accepted after the beginning of the event.
Australia has yet to pursue offshore operators of poker and casino sites. It does not seem to be a priority for the government. There is talk about modifying the Interactive Gambling Act to help it apply better to the constantly evolving online gaming market.
Potential player safety situation caused by Interactive Gambling Act
One of the biggest problems with the Interactive Gambling Act is that it prevents brands familiar with Australian players from participating in the country’s internet poker and casino industry. This opens the door for offshore sites that feel that they are outside of the enforcement arm of Australian law. While many poker and casino sites that accept Australian players are legitimate, there are some that are scams that operate with the sole intent of stealing deposited funds from players.
The lack of access to this market by companies in Australia makes it possible for dodgy operators to enter the market. There is no gaming commission to punish rogue operators. Players have no recourse if they become victims of a scheme.
Australian Online Betting FAQ
Is online sports betting legal in Australia?
Yes. Most Australian betting shops offer internet sites.
Is online horse racing legal in Australia?
Yes. The same companies that offer online sports betting also accept wagers on horse races.
What sites accept sports bets from Australian players?
Betway,Bet365, William Hill and Ladbrokes are among the most popular Australian betting sites.
Is online poker legal in Australia?
Online poker is not technically illegal in Australia. Offshore companies that do not market gambling operate in a gray area. Companies located in Australia may not.
Are online casino games legal in Australia?
The same online poker gray area applies to casino games. All sites are located offshore similar to New Zealand.
Have any online poker or casino operators been convicted in Australia?
The Australian government has never taken legal action against offshore gambling sites.