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Uncovering the Fascinating Landscape of Gambling in Australia: An Industry Overview

Australia coloured with flag
Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay
Gambling is a sport that is widely accepted and embraced in Australia. From the new research by the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) in 2015, it was revealed that over 6.8 million people are engaged in regular gambling activities which involves spending money on different forms of gambling at least once a month.

It is interesting to note that the Australians with the highest rate of gambling being undertaken around the world possess the most progressive rules in the context of gambling regulations. The country has multiple legal casino houses which both provide physical and best online casino Australia real money platforms including legal and regulated poker rooms. Also, EGMs, which are electronic-based gaming machines otherwise called “pokies”, are widely accessible in pubs, clubs, and bars, and they are providing entertainment alongside lottery games which is a popular choice.

Sports betting industry is regulated, with TAB (Totalisator Agency Board) sports betting shops providing punters the opportunity to bet both tote and fixed odds, with approximately 3,000 retail outlets being operational. Established in 1961, following the trend, TAB shops were currently government-owned structures. However, with time, after modernization in 2015 as the primary changes, particularly in Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory, and Tasmania, different shops were converted to UBET shops.

In accord with the global norms, bingo is widely played in Australia, along with a limited number of land-based casinos that are regulated by the Casino Control Act of 2006. The state and territory legislations specifically control the land-based gambling that includes the casinos of Sydney, Brisbane, Melbourne, Perth, Adelaide, and the national capital.

On the other hand, Australia can also be regarded as a country that has legalized online gaming as early as 2001, through the implementation of the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA), which primarily aimed to impose restrictions on the operators as opposed to the players. From the legal standpoint, playing casino games on the Internet is not a crime and the winners are not liable for paying tax, because such virtual gambling is considered a recreational activity and not the kind of profession.


In Australia, gaming policy has been traditionally one and only the responsibility of the Australian States in which the Commonwealth also has a hands-on of the gambling regulation. State and Territories governments responsible for regulations in the field of gambling as well as for the services’ supply come first. There is available data from a 2017 study of Tasmanian Department of Treasury and Finance showing gambling revenue contributing to 7.7% of the total state and territory taxation revenues.

Each State regulates its own gambling legislation and licensing of these establishments to protect players in them, whether it is a land based casino, betting shop, or any other gambling place. The execution of these policies is actively supervised by different governmental bodies, such as commissions, councils, and state agencies. The recent changes to legislative procedures have given the Commonwealth the opportunity to join the other states by also becoming more active in regulating the gambling industry.

Providing people with health related difficulties associated with gambling, the Commonwealth organized a query through the Productivity Commission, which has shown that 0.5% -1.00% of the public faced serious issues stemming from their gambling addictions.

Besides, the new trend of online gambling forced improvement of the regulation model of the state, which was aimed at regulation and management instead of prohibition. By 2001, an Act regarding Interactive Gambling was enacted, restricting the capabilities of Australia owned online gambling websites from offering gambling services to the locals. The aim here was that players would be protected from the detrimental effects of online gambling, and that it would represent a proper source of revenue through license fees and tax acquired.

Attitudes towards the gaming business started to soften thanks to those who started to realize that it could create jobs and income as well as bring social benefits. This sector does not only deliver job opportunities to the populace but importantly avails a respectable amount of revenue toward the government through normal taxation policies. This revenue funds both the social, sporting infrastructure and community organizations. Fiscal statistics are clearly illustrated by the numbers that show the state government is getting the benefits from poker machines and other forms of gambling with the last figures mentioning gambling being like the 9-10% of the total state tax revenue on average.

Taxation laws are quite different from state to state with a spectrum of measures, i.e imposing operators based on profit or turnover and the players loss. The heterogeneity in the tax rate and gambling services in each of the states is what this diversity stands for.

Regulation of Gambling in Australia

Presently, the way gambling is regulated in Australia takes place at both federal and state levels. The first level of the hierarchy is attributed to the central government, the Commonwealth, which has the power to enact and modify laws. The role of the Commonwealth in this hierarchy is that of a regulator and the legislative body with limited jurisdiction.

At the same time, gambling legislation is mainly a state and territory matter whereas multiple jurisdictions are involved. Besides, the legal aspects of the industry is based on the statutes and the judicial opinion which are passed at the local level.

In the case of Australia, gambling regulation is implemented through designated ministers in each of the regional jurisdictions who draft laws and design policies. On the other hand, government authorities are independent regulators, with agencies and institutions from various regions doing the regulation through different institutions. These agencies include the New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, the Licensing Commission in the Northern Territory, the ACT Gambling and Racing Commission, the Department of Racing, Gaming, and Liquor in Western Australia, the Independent Gambling Authority in South Australia, the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation in Queensland, the Tasmanian Gaming Commission, and the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor.

Subsequently, the independent regulators such as (WA’s DRGL and Northern Territory’s Licensing Commission), and some federal departments have the mandate of regulating the various gambling operations in Australia. But the most important of them are Australian Communications and Media Authority (interactive gambling), Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (anti-money laundering), and Australian Federal Police (interactive gambling and financial crime). First of all, the specialized type of license in Australia limits the gambling operators, and in terms of what they can provide and offer to their clients. On the other hand, the land-based casinos are restricted in their offerings to providing casino games and pokies to customers physically in the casino while clubs and hotels which are all licensed can provide both pokies and Keno on their premises. Bookmakers and betting companies that offer fixed-odds products are allowed to give such services in physical institutions and remotely (including online), with other enterprises taking tote betting (totalizator) tote betting on their list. Furthermore, instead of lotteries in the national lottery games, it is commercial lottery operators who sell the tickets and the customers can buy them either in shops or online.

The pros bypass the Australian legislation since they can have an opportunity of catering to foreign players and not the Australian citizens. In addition, offshore online casinos attract and accept a lot of Australian players, despite the fact that such activity is prohibited officially. Such explanation follows in the upcoming paragraphs.

The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001

The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 was the result of the legislative process by the Commonwealth Parliament of Australia in June 2001 with the primary objective of protecting society’s interests from the pervasive influence of Internet-based gambling. The Act entered into force in early July, only a month after getting Royal assent on July 11. It primarily targets operators with a ban on offering real-money interactive gambling to Australians and people in "designated countries". This ban encompasses both Australia-based and international online service providers as the government attempts to control advertising of such services within the country.

In spite of these restraints, there are exemptions to the legislation of the country thus suiting some online gambling companies. Betting in sports as well as online lotteries is permitted so long as bets were placed before a sporting event kick off and electronic lotteries unless they are instant win scratch cards.

The Act of 2001 excludes the interactive gambling services forms like those of in-running or in-play betting but still the companies in Australia are allowed to remain as the gambling service providers for overseas customers. The experienced operators whether local or offshore had not any right to offer real-money interactive services to Australian based shoppers because that was absolutely prohibited. However, it was lawful for the customers to use such services by any means. It has been evident that most people in Australia can easily get several casino games and even purchase tickets through websites away from the country.

In 2012 an official research led to an understanding of the limitations of the Act which might cause harm to the public, as a result, the Interactive 2016 Gambling Amendment Bill passed in 2017. The bill defines the law, grants more powers to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to enforce the laws and even comes up with an out-right ban on online poker. Besides these decisions, however, Australians themselves cannot be put in legal liability for using online casinos licensed in other countries, this leaving an area of uncertainty where many online casinos run being immune from authorities of territorial jurisdiction.

The ACT Gambling and Racing Commission

The independent ACT Gambling and Racing Commission was set in place concerning the guidelines enclosed in Section 5 of the Gambling and Racing Control Act, 1999. This legislation was meant to offer active, ongoing monitoring, supervision, and administration of several Acts associated with racing and gambling and also gives the Commission its duties, responsibilities, and rights.

The ACT Gambling and Racing Commission is charged with important duties. Primarily, it monitors and controls all activities of casinos, gaming machines, racing events, betting activities, lotteries and online gambling happenings rolling inside the Australian territory. Coming to this place, the Commission is authorized to approve them and also to keep track of their social impact on the community.

As a second function, the Commission will conduct systematic review of racing and gaming acts and laws as well as give the Minister recommendations if necessary. It also lends its power to conduct probes on anything related to race track or gaming operations. Furthermore, the Commission is also tasked with collecting the compulsory fees and taxes and any charges provided for in the governing gaming rules of the country.

The Independent Gambling Authority

The Independent Gambling Authority, which is the main regulatory body established for the purpose of supervision, overseeing, and ensuring the compliance of commercial gambling rules and regulations in the territory of South Australia. The duties of such bodies should be independently performed beyond any Ministerial intervention taking into account that they are required to be held accountable to the Parliament of gambling through the Minister for Gambling.

The IGA is currently responsible for law enforcement, including the entertainment in the gaming machines in the casinos, clubs and hotels, also racing and sports betting, as well as commercial lotteries. All the actions of all the authorities are grounded in the national laws of the country.

The functions and responsibilities of the Independent Gambling Authority are regulated by the Independent Gambling Authority Act 1995 which is the relevant legislation of the parliament. The organization has its members taking up appointments from the South Australian government and they predominantly act as a regulator that holds the supervisory role to ensure the licensed gambling industry in South Australia is well supervised.

Responsible Wagering Australia

Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), which took over from the former Australian Wagering Council (AWC) presents a newer face of the industry. AWC was a trade association and lobbying group that, unfortunately, closed down after losing its key member (in this case it was both Ladbrokes and William Hill). These foreign companies shut their internet business operations after the passing of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 which led to total ban on in-play betting.

These are intertwined with the leading entity that performs in the guise of the advocacy group in the Australian crypto-currency sector, an independent and autonomous private company constructed to safeguard the interests of the industry of the country of Australia. In the month of June, 2020, there are seven different companies that are members of the association including bet365 , BetEasy, Sportbet, Betfair, Unibet and GVC- Ladbrokes and Neds.

Responsible Wagering Australia underscores that their members should not only acquire licenses from Australian authorities for provision of online sports betting services but also remain subject to the codes of the association. Gambling websites exhibiting the RWA badge certify that the aim of their operation is consistent with absolute integrity.
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