Is gambling legal in Australia? If so, what kind of gambling regulations and restrictions are there? Who is in charge of ensuring player security? I’ll answer all of those questions in the following lines.
Popularity of Gambling in Australia
One of the most popular forms of entertainment in Australia is gambling. So much so, that about 80% of Australian adults engage in various forms of gambling on a more or less regular basis. That is a huge number, and it makes Australia the leading country when it comes to the prevalence of gambling.
There are several licensed land-based casinos in the country, and pokies/gaming machines can be found in pubs, bars, and clubs. For sports betting there are nearly 3,000 retail TAB (Totalisator Agency Board) outlets in Australia, and bingo (a.k.a. housie) is also widely available. In short, there are plenty of opportunities to gamble legally in Australia.
And when we are talking about such a large industry, we’re also talking about major benefits from a social and economic point of view. The gambling industry in Australia means more than entertainment; it means thousands of jobs, taxation revenue, and sporting infrastructure. However, there is also a downside to this hobby, and that is the risk of a mere pastime turning into a problem, so that’s where the authorities intervened.
Online Gambling Regulations and Restrictions
Since this industry is so prevalent in Australia, and since it has expanded both in the online and offline environment, there was a need for regulatory authorities to ensure consumer protection by focusing on the following topics:
- preventing the further expansion of the industry in Australia;
- analysing and limiting the impact of gambling problems on communities and families;
- the issue of internet gambling;
- consumer security.
Perhaps the most significant development in the field of gambling regulations has been the introduction in 2001 of the Interactive Gambling Act. What this piece of legislation did for Australian-based gambling services was it:
- prohibited interactive gambling services from being provided to Australian residents;
- prohibited Australian-based interactive gambling services from being provided to customers in certain countries;
- established a complaints-based system to deal with Internet gambling services where prohibited Internet gambling content is available for access by customers in Australia;
- prohibited the advertising of interactive gambling services.
It is worth mentioning though that it is not illegal for an Australian resident to use online gambling services, so the websites that do offer their services to players in Australia are safe to use. The downside is that those websites will not be regulated within Australia, so the Australian gambling authorities will be unable to assist you in case you have any issues with them. Yet no worries, you will be able to receive assistance from the authorities in the jurisdiction where those operators got their licence.
- Australian Capital Territory
The ACT Gambling and Racing Commission is an independent statutory authority that regulates all types of gambling activities (gaming racing, betting) in the state, to ensure that they are conducted in an honest and legal manner.
- New South Wales
The New South Wales (NSW) Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing is responsible for the development, implementation and integrity of the regulatory framework for liquor, registered clubs, charitable and gambling activities in New South Wales.
- Northern Territory
The Racing and Gaming Authority and the Gaming Machine Commission are accountable for the gambling legislation in NT as well as the licensing of gaming machines respectively.
The Queensland Office of Gaming Regulation regulates machine gaming, casinos, art unions, lotteries and keno in Queensland.
- South Australia
The Independent Gambling Authority is the senior South Australian regulator for commercial forms of gambling (casino gambling, gaming machines in hotels and clubs, wagering on races and sports and commercial lotteries).
The Tasmanian Gaming Commission is an independent body responsible for the regulation of gaming in Tasmania.
The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) is the independent statutory authority that administers Victoria’s gambling and liquor laws.
- Western Australia
The Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor is responsible for regulating and maintaining the integrity of lawful racing, gambling and liquor activities for Western Australia.
Taxation laws on gambling, or why gambling is so popular in Australia
In Australia, winnings made out of gambling are NOT TAXED, and the main reasons for that are:
- Gambling is considered to be a hobby, not a profession;
- Because gambling is not seen as a profession, winnings are not considered to be income, but just the result of good luck;
- While players get to enjoy tax-free winnings, the authorities compensate for it by taxing gambling operators instead. How the taxes are applied differs from state to state, but the constant is that operators need to obtain a gambling license and pay certain fees to offer their services.
So when you draw the line, not only is it quite safe and perfectly legal for you to gamble in Australia due to the way the gambling regulations are set up. But you also get extra perks, like not having to worry about taxes when you hit that big jackpot.