Understanding Australian Gambling Legislation

It is estimated that approximately 80% of all Australian adults participate in gambling in one form or another and Aussies have often been referred to as the “world’s biggest gamblers”.

There are many land-based casinos based in Australia and the highly popular pokies (slots and video poker) are a common sight in pubs across the nation.

With regards to sports betting, the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) permits both tote wagers and fixed-odds betting and there are nearly 3000 TAB outlets across the country.

Even though the laws regarding gambling have always been on the more liberal side of things, it’s important that players and punters understand the legislation in place and how it affects them.

Regulating Gambling in Australia

The regulation of gambling is achieved on two levels in Australia: central government supervises the industry and adds and amends laws as necessary, while regulation also takes place at the state and territorial level.

Below you will find a list of all the organisations involved in the regulation of the Australian gambling industry, as well as the regions in which they have authority.

  • Australian Capital Territory: ACT Gambling and Racing Commission
  • Northern Territory: Licensing Commission
  • New South Wales: Office of Liquor, Gaming, and Racing
  • South Australia: Independent Gambling Authority
  • Queensland: Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation
  • Victoria: Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation
  • Western Australia: Department of Racing, Gaming, and Liquor
  • Tasmania: Tasmanian Gaming Commission

Interactive Gambling Act of 2001

This act, which targets online operators, was passed in 2001 with the intent of protecting the general public against the harmful effects of gambling.

Players were still able to access online casinos without any legal repercussion (such as online pokies NZ), but it became illegal for operators based within Australia to offer their services to Australians or to advertise real-money internet-based games across all forms of media.

Recent Changes to Australian Gambling Legislation

When Alan Trudge was appointed as the Minister of Human Services under Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2016, things began to change and Trudge was given the task of getting Australia’s $20 billion gambling industry up to scratch with modern standards.

He did not take this instruction lightly and soon the following revisions to the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 were introduced and passed into law:

  • Punters can join an online self-exclusion register for a period of their choosing, but no less than 3 months
  • Online bookmakers are require to offer a pre-commitment scheme to punters which allows them to set voluntary betting limits
  • Online sportsbooks are no longer able to offer ‘free bets’ or ‘free credit’ to Aussie punters to prevent punters from going into debt from gambling

Interactive Gambling Bill of 2016

The Interactive Gambling Bill of 2016 was finally passed in August 2017 and aims to address illegal offshore gambling operators. The new measures include, amongst others:

  • The requirement of a license under Australian State or Territory Laws by anyone providing a regulated interactive gambling service in the country, such as online casinos
  • The prohibition of operators offering lines of credit to punters in Australia

How Australian Gambling Legislation Affect You

Even though the Interactive Gambling Bill of 2016 aims to completely outlaw the use of offshore online casinos by Australian residents, the laws are still at present time ambiguous as to the legality.

As such, Australian players are still permitted to access licensed and regulated online casinos which are operated offshore and there are plenty of reputable sites to enjoy.