A Breakdown of the Different Gambling Laws in Australia

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Gambling and bets, as many money-related activities, have strict regulations. But there’s no one size to fit all.

So, different countries have different attitudes and laws regarding gambling. Some countries have lax regulations, while other parts of the world might forbid it entirely.  

In this article, we’ll concentrate on Australian gambling laws and how they affect the user. Australia is actually one of the countries where regulations mostly focus on the provider, not the user.

This enables a lot more freedom when picking your games or placing bets since the responsibility mostly rests on the company that facilitates gambling.

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Who Sets Gambling Laws in Australia?

It’s important to understand that Australia has a binary form of regulation. One part comes from the government. The central ruling body will write and amend laws about gambling that will affect the whole country.

The second part of the regulations comes from the local governing bodies. Each territory has its own authorities that supervise the gambling laws in their respective regions. You will need to familiarise yourself with the governing rules in your place of operation.

Australia has eight of these local authorities. And if you might need to file a complaint, you can contact the Australian Broadcasting Authority, which operates in the whole of Australia.

Relevant Authorities

Several central authorities regulate the gambling laws in Australia.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority is the main body of regulations. They monitor online gambling and betting by phone. Altogether they hold authority over the interactive gambling laws.

Usually referred to by the acronym, ACMA monitors and enforces compliance with the interactive gambling laws. As such, they restrain several activities.

Online casinos, slots, and poker are mostly prohibited. You can’t bet on live sports events in the form or short-term gamble. Instant lotteries are also banned.

The law forbids the activities of the gambling providers who operate without a license. Interactive gambling services can no longer offer credit to their customers.

ACMA can investigate gambling-related activity in Australia, monitor suspicious operators, hinder their travel to the country and even cooperate with authorities from different countries if there’s a need for it.

Another relevant authority when it comes to gambling laws is the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center. They have released their own specialised act called Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing.

AML/CTF Act was passed in 2006. According to it, some gambling-related activities are classified as designated services. These services have to comply with the AML/CTF Act or be liable for monetary penalties.

This last important service directly aims to protect the customer. The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) cater to Australian consumers. ACCC adheres to the Competition and Consumer Act of 2010.

The organisation ensures that gambling activity providers don’t mistreat Australian customers; there’s no targeting gambling advertising or breaches to the Competition and Consumer act.

Interactive Gambling Act

This is probably the most critical law set in place to control gambling in Australia. It was passed in 2001. Australian Commonwealth Parliament designed the act to protect the citizens from the harm that certain gambling activities might bring.

As the name suggests, the law targets online gambling activities. Australian residents can no longer gamble real money in online games. This restriction is explicitly designed for the operators, though.

If the operator is based in Australia, they can no longer offer online gambling services to the citizens.

However, there are exceptions. Because the gambling law doesn’t outright prohibit the users from gambling, they can find the offshore service that will accommodate them.

While the Interactive Gambling Act does state that offshore gambling operators should avoid Australian customers, there are no express prohibitions.

But keep in mind, if you run in some problems while participating in offshore gambling, you might not receive legal help from local Australian authorities.

Additionally, the act bans advertising related to real-money gambling.

Sports betting avoided the restrictions that were signed in 2001. Which means that bookmakers can operate provided they have a license. And betters can still engage in racing-related gambling and sports betting at their leisure.

Some modifications were made to the Interactive Gambling Act. Among them was the ability for users to set a custom limit on their bets. This works wonders for avoiding overspending. But more radical additions were made in 2016.

Interactive Gambling Bill

This is a much more restrictive addition to the previously discussed gambling law. It bans online gambling unless the provider has a specially designed license and can legally operate in Australia. It would affect all virtual activities, except sports gambling.

There can also be no gambling advertisements while live sporting events take place.

Probably the most controversial part of the bill is that offshore operators have to be approved by the Australian government to work legally, or their activity might be banned.

Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 allowed for some leeway, but the Gambling Bill of 2016 restricted offshore gambling activity. Any violation of this addition might end up in IP bans or penalties.

Sports betting also received an addition. You can no longer place bets if the event has already started. It was set in place to curb the addictive nature of betting while the sporting event is underway.

It is called short-term betting. Basically, if you watch a TV and see a specific team gaining favour, you might place some quick bets. However, once again, this law is mostly aimed at Australian operators.

Gambling activities in Australia

Despite all the prohibitions, Australia’s still somewhat open to the majority of the gambling activities.

Casino gambling is still permitted within the country. You can go to an establishment within the country, provides they have the appropriate permissions to operate. Due to legal restrictions, there are very few online operators that are permitted to serve customers.

Operator license is required for casino ventures as well as racing-related gambling and even keno. However, these licenses are rare and based on the territory.

Sports betting is a bit more liberal with its rules. It’s one of the more popular betting activities in Australia. To legally operate this service, you’ll need a bookmaker license. With it, you’ll be able to accept bets for sporting events. Most of the bookmakers in the country are corporate, though.

Poker, bingo and slot machines are all available online and in a local establishment. Despite the seemingly strict gambling laws, the operator needs to have related licenses, and things will go smoothly.

Bingo is actually a particular case. Depending on the territory, if the winning pool is below a certain amount, the game requires no license. Usually, bingo is categorised as minor gambling.

Slot machines require a gambling venue license. In some establishments, each device will need its own permission. But the casinos usually have a permit for every machine on their premises.

Poker also has some exceptions. You don’t need a permit to play for fun or when no percentage of winnings is given to anyone person.

Two more categories of ‘wager’ are social games and skill games. Social games are the ones that don’t involve a prize. Skill games are defined as not having an element of chance. Neither is classified as gambling and so are excepted from the law.

Boon to consumers

Australia has a particular taxing system concerning gambling. When you place bets on sports events, participate in lotteries, play with slots machines and or engage in other gambling activities, the law considers it a recreational activity.

This means that you keep exactly what you win. There is no taxation on the sum. This sets Australia as one of the more favourable countries where gambling is concerned, despite their seemingly strict policies.

Basic layout

With the amendments and additions to the Interactive Gambling Act, Australia is in a wonderful spot when it comes to gambling laws.

In broad terms, online gambling and similar online betting are forbidden. Many local and offshore operators have to acquire specific licenses that differ by territory. The Interactive Gambling Bill in 2016 has primarily restricted forms of online gambling.

One of the more liberal aspects of gambling is sports betting. The country no longer supports short-term bets during live events.

However, many related activities are unchanged. You can still place bets on various races and on your favourite sports team. Licensed corporate bookmakers are involved in the process.

In all this, the Australian customer has a free-range. The law does not restrict them. Instead, it’s the operator who has to adhere to the rules and regulations of the country.

Fancy a Flutter?

Australia’s gambling laws are designed to help the customer. They’re designed to battle addictive service that sometimes comes from untrustworthy operators. Once the license to operate is acquired, however, the gambling service can be carried out as usual.

And if you want more information in the Australian gambling scene, be sure to check out our city guides


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