Gambling in Australia – Latest Facts & Figures
- 80% of Australians gamble.
- Aussies spend close to $24 billion every year on gambling.
- The Australian government earns billions of dollars in tax revenue every year.
- 20% of the world's electronic gambling machines are in Australia.
- The country has 200,000+ pokies: slot machine games.
- Australia has more high-loss pokie machines than any other country.
- Australians have been playing at online casinos since 1994.
- Aristocrat Leisure Limited, an Australian company, bears the credit for developing the world's first pokie.
Gambling is easily available in Australia considering the fact that it has 20 licensed land-based casinos. Pokies are also available in clubs, hotels, and pubs all over the country.
Let us have a look at the numbers:
|State/Territory||No. of Gaming Machines||Casinos|
|Australian Capital Territory (ACT)||5,200||-|
|Northern Territory||2,195||Lasseters, Sky City|
|SNew South Wales||100,500||Star Casino|
|South Australia||13,113||Adelaide Casino|
|Tasmania||3,680||Country Club Casino, Wrest Point Casino|
|Victoria||30,000||Crown Melbourne Casino|
|Western Australia||1,750||Crown Perth Casino|
Online Casinos in Australia
What if you want to play casino games online?
The legal situation is slightly tricky for online casino players in Australia. While it is a punishable offense to operate an online casino in Australia, there is no law against residents signing up at offshore online casinos. You can sign up at as many offshore online casinos as you please if they are not in the Australian Media and Communications Authority’s (ACMA) list of blocked websites.
Some Australian states such as Queensland have licensed online casinos, but they are open only to those physically present in the state. If you live in such a state, you can legally play casino games online.
Important Regulatory Bodies in Australia
Australia doesn't have one gambling law that applies to all gambling activities within the country. Also, it doesn't have one gambling authority. Instead, gambling in Australia is regulated by the federal as well as the state/territorial governments.
Let us have a look at the various gambling authorities in Australia:
|Victoria||Victorian Commission for Liquor and Gambling Regulation|
|New South Wales||Liquor and Gaming New South Wales of the NSW Department of Customer Service|
|Queensland||Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (QOLGR)|
|Australian Capital Territory (ACT)||Gambling and Racing Commission|
|South Australia||Consumer and Business Services in the Department of the Attorney General; Lotteries Commission of South Australia in the Auditor General's Department|
|Tasmania||Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission in the Department of Treasury and Finance|
|Western Australia||Western Australian Department of Racing, Gaming, and Liquor|
|Northern Territory||NTRC, Licensing NT|
The federal government of Australia has the power to govern and regulate money, telecommunications, and trade within territories and states. It uses these powers to enact laws to regulate online gambling, combat terrorism and money laundering, protect consumers, and maintain healthy competition among businesses.
The following are the federal-level regulatory bodies:
Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA)
The ACMA is responsible for regulating media and communications all over Australia. Also, it supervises gambling activities conducted over the phone and online and ensures that businesses comply with interactive gambling laws.
Australian Transaction and Analysis Centre (Austrac)
This regulatory body prevents terrorism financing and money laundering. The Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act, which Australia enacted in 2006, classifies certain gambling activities as "designated services." Licensed gambling operators are required to comply with this law by reporting certain financial transactions to Austrac.
Australian Consumer and Competition Commission (ACCC)
This body enforces consumer protection laws throughout Australia. It ensures that licensed gambling operators implement required measures to maintain safe, secure, and fair gambling environments.
Important Gambling Laws in Australia
On Dec 16, 1999, Prime Minister John Howard, issued a statement calling for the establishment of national-level regulations encompassing the following:
- Prevention of gambling expansion
- Minimizing gambling harm
- Online gambling
- Consumer protection
On April 5, 2001, the government introduced the Interactive Gambling Bill, which soon became the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, the most important gambling law in Australia.
According to this piece of legislation:
- Online gambling operators cannot offer their services to Australian residents.
- Online gaming companies based in Australia cannot offer their services to customers in certain countries.
- Online gambling companies cannot advertise their services and products in Australia.
- Operating online casinos, in-play sports betting, online sportsbooks without an Australian license is illegal.
- Operating lottery betting services is illegal.
Latest Developments - Changes to the Interactive Gambling Act
In 2017, Australia amended the Interactive Gambling Act to curb illegal online gambling sites targeting Australian residents. These amendments gave the ACMA the following powers:
- Publish a register of online gambling companies holding an Australian license
- Prevent operators from enabling or offering lines of credit to Aussie players
- Develop new tools that force people to comply with gambling laws
- Refer directors of non-compliant companies to the Australian Border Force
The amendments also gave the ACMA the power to direct AU ISPs to block certain offshore online casinos targeting Australian players. Ever since the ACMA started enforcing the new rules, more than 100 illegal gambling sites withdrew from the Australian market.
The ACMA invites residents to complain about an illegal site so that it can conduct the required investigations and direct ISPs to block it. You can view a list of blocked websites here.
Responsible Gambling - How Australia Protects Players from Gambling Harm
Australia has many non-profit organizations at the federal and state/territorial levels to raise awareness of problem gambling, protect players from gambling harm, and provide support and assistance to problem gamblers and their families.
According to the ACMA website, the government of Australia has introduced a National Consumer Protection Framework, which includes ten measures to help victims of gambling harm. For example, the framework allows you to set deposit limits to control your gambling spending and to self-exclude from all online gambling services licensed in Australia if you feel the need to do so.
Over 240,000 Australians are either at risk for problem gambling or already experiencing gambling harm. If you are one of them, you can get the following support:
- The government of Australia finances organizations that support problem gamblers, their family members, and friends. Such non-profit organizations are available all over Australia.
- Visit the official website of the National Debt Helpline or call its helpline 1800-007-007 to get information about the above-mentioned support groups.
- The National Gambling Helpline 1800-858-858 and the Gambling Help Online service operate on funds received from state governments.
Australian Gambling Regulation FAQs
Australia has no federal-level regulatory framework that enables it to license and regulate online casinos. However, you may find a few state-licensed online casinos, available only to the state residents.
Australia doesn’t penalize players who bet real money at offshore online casinos. Just make sure that the casino is licensed. Also, remember that you cannot access casinos in the ACMA’s blacklist.
Online casino payment options are limited for Australian players because of the country's online gambling regulations. Currently, you can use Visa & MasterCard credit/debit cards, cryptocurrencies, Neosurf, UPayCard, POLi, and Bank Transfer.
Play at online casinos that are not licensed in your country is dangerous. In the absence of a regulatory body to supervise them, unlicensed online casinos provide poor customer service, withhold winnings, offer pirated games and software, give away bonuses with unreasonable terms, and shut down without a warning.
Yes, but they are licensed by individual states/territories and are available only to the residents of those states/territories. This is the reason Australians turn to offshore online casinos licensed in Gibraltar, Isle of Man, Alderney, Kahnawake, and others.
Australia doesn’t tax gambling winnings as it doesn’t consider them to be income. You can, therefore, keep them all.