Online casino laws in Australia

Online casino laws, online sports legalities, Internet lottery rules and licenses – you might think it can all be heaped under the same ‘Internet gambling regulations’ roof, but in actual fact the laws surrounding real money online betting in Australia aren’t unanimous across the different areas of gambling. In this article we will talk about Australian online casinos laws, but also touch on other realms of gambling to give you a wider outlook on the state of iGambling Down Under.

What are the laws in Australia about online casinos?

The regulations employed by the government concerning online casinos are laid out in the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, passed during John Howard’s reign. It states that it is an offence to offer and advertise “real-money online interactive gambling services” to Australian residents. This law, however, comes with a few concessions:

  • The term ‘interactive’ only applies to online poker, online casino games like blackjack, roulette and pokies, instant win Internet scratch cards and online live/in-play sports betting. All other forms of online gambling are exempt from the law.
  • Companies dealing in any of the above forms of online interactive gambling can operate within Australia, but can only offer their services to gamblers outside of Australia.
  • Australian residents are legally allowed to access and gamble with real money with any online interactive gambling operator which is based overseas and markets its services to the Australian public. The average Aussie resident cannot be punished for gambling online with such organisations.

So while the law seems quite well-defined, many gambling operators that would be classified as ‘interactive’, according to the Australian government, still market their services to Aussie citizens, because such companies have never been met by any serious attempts to thwart their actions. When Australian sporting greats such as Shane Warne publicly endorse ‘interactive’ gambling companies such as 888 Poker, it’s hard to take the IGA seriously.

So if you do wish to gamble at an online casino or online poker room, as you have every right to, do so with reputable and regulated operators. The gambling websites we recommend are registered in and licensed by their jurisdiction’s gaming authority, such as the United Kingdom’s Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority, and are also regulated by independent auditory bodies, such as eCOGRA (eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance), which test for player fairness and high security standards.

Why aren’t other forms of gambling subject to the same laws?

That’s a good question. Online sports wagering and online lotteries are legally allowed to be marketed within Australia, so long as they are done through licensed operators. Aside from ‘live’ betting after a sporting event has commenced, or instant-win style scratchies as mentioned above, sports and lottery gambling over the Internet is not considered ‘interactive’ by the government.

But this is a case of mere semantics. When you take into account the fact almost all imaginable forms of offline gambling are legal in Australia, and the fact land-based casinos, pub and bar pokies, online sports operators and lottery operators all bring in a hell of a lot of revenue for the government in tax, banning certain types of online gambling and leaving others legal makes little sense.

In 2013, a five-year trial allowing operators to offer online poker services to Australian residents was suggested, as well as the legalisation of ‘in-play’ sports wagering, but this proposal was declined. Consistent harm minimisation and player protection guidelines were given priority before considering opening the Aussie online gambling market to more legal wagering avenues.

Not much has changed since then, and we believe it makes more sense to allow licensed Australian operators to offer interactive gaming services to the Aussie public, which the government can regulate and tax, rather than continue to turn a blind eye to offshore companies which do the same thing. While registered offshore operators maintain high-quality services, we feel those wishing to gamble online would feel more comfortable doing so with locally owned businesses.

While the government sorts out regulations which it has made more complex than necessary, we suggest enjoying graphically advanced online poker, blackjack, roulette, baccarat, pokies, live dealer games, casino war, video poker and other entertaining titles for real Australian money at the following Internet casinos and poker rooms:

Always gamble responsibly. If you can’t afford to lose it, don’t use it. If you think you might have a gambling problem, websites such as www.problemgambling.gov.au and www.helpguide.org are available to get you back on the right track.