Do you want to know more about how popular gambling is in Melbourne?
Recent studies have shown that around four in five Australians regularly enjoy a flutter whether this is on the horses, in casinos or simply on the lottery. With such a high demand for gambling services, the big cities need to offer services to cater for the public appetite for a wager.
In this guide, we take a look at the gambling scene in Melbourne including local legislation, the venues where you can get involved with sports and race betting as well as entertainment venues like casinos, bingo halls and places to play poker.
- 1 Gambling Laws in Melbourne
- 2 Gambling Scene in Melbourne
- 3 Casinos
- 4 Race Courses
- 5 Lotteries & Keno
- 6 Poker
- 7 Bingo
- 8 Electronic Gaming Machines (‘Pokies’/Slots)
- 9 Social Clubs, Sports Bars and Hotels
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Gambling Laws in Melbourne
Governed by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, gambling in Melbourne is legal for players over the age of 18. This applies to all forms of gaming for money including lotteries, sports and race betting, casinos and bingo halls. Some casinos in Australia operate higher minimum age limits. You can find out more about Melbourne’s casino, The Crown, in the section below.
The update of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) in September 2017 has banned offshore casino operators from offering online services within Australia. In practice this legislation bans services from being offered but places no penalty on those who use these illegal sites. In theory, if players can access an offshore, online casino, as long as they are 18, they can use the service.
Gambling Scene in Melbourne
As in most of Australia’s state capitals, Melbourne enjoys a diverse entertainment scene which includes gambling in various forms including sports and race betting facilities in race venues, sports bars, bingo halls and even in one of the largest casinos in the world.
The city also has several racetracks where punters can enjoy live action horse and greyhound racing.
Melbourne plays host to the country’s most prestigious annual horse race, The Melbourne Cup. A 3.2km thoroughbred meet with a purse of $6.2 million, the ‘race that stops a nation’ has been held in the city every year since 1861. Televised since 1960, the event is a national holiday in Melbourne and attracts over 100,000 racegoers. This unique race is thought to attract bets from over 80% of the nation in addition to the estimated $183 million in bets placed by visiting tourists.
The latest report on gambling statistics for Australia reveal that Victoria is the second largest spender for gambling with annual expenditure exceeding $5.7 billion, accounting for 25% of the country’s total wagering spend. New South Wales tops this statistic with a total spend of $8.9 billon.
Of this figure, 86% of the spend is on gaming activities which includes electronic gaming machines, pools, lotteries, bingo, Keno and casino games. Just 9% of the state’s annual wagering expenditures is spent on race betting with the remainder being attributed to sports betting.
Per capita, the average spend on gambling each year in Victoria is $1,250, the country’s 3rd highest and about average. The highest annual spend per capita on gambling is in the Northern Territories where the average person spends $6,543 each year on gambling.
Pokies remain a popular way to gamble and, since being legalised in 1991, a total of 28,860 electronic gambling machines (EGTs) have been installed in Victoria.
With a population of 3.848 million people and the largest city in the state of Victoria, Melbourne contributes much of the annual revenue for gambling in the above statistics. The city enjoys a huge number of ways to gamble including online, in social bars and clubs as well as at dedicated facilities.
Australia has yet to catch up with the shift in the global casino market from America to the Asia-Pacific region and Victoria has just once licensed casino operator.
8 Whiteman St, Southbank VIC 3006
Originally opening in 1994 and relocating across the Yarra River in 1997, the Crown is Melbourne’s only casino.
Covering a total area of 510,000 sq. m, the entire complex is one of the largest of its kind in the world and the largest in the Southern hemisphere.
The Crown runs a regular schedule of gaming events and features more than 50 poker table as well as other popular casino table games. In addition, the Crown is home to some of Australia’s biggest cash poker tournaments.
As well as electronic gaming machines (or ‘pokies’), you can also play Blackjack, Caribbean Stud, Baccarat, Craps, Roulette, Sic Bo, Pai Gow and Nutz.
The Crown has a New Games Lab on the first floor where players can learn how to play fresh games.
With the exception of Christmas Day, Anzac Day and Good Friday (closed from 4.00am to 12.00pm), the casino is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
Racing is a great way to enjoy gambling and visiting the venue itself can provide a good day’s entertainment whether you walk away with winnings or not. Melbourne has several horse and greyhound racing tracks, many holding some of the country’s most prestigious racing events.
Horseracing in Australia dates back to the first colonies and thoroughbred racing is the third most popular spectator sport in the country. The first official races were held in Melbourne in 1838, just three years after the city was founded; now, that’s getting your priorities straight!
448 Epsom Rd, Flemington VIC 3031
Originally opening in 1840, Flemington Racecourse has a capacity of 120,000 spectators and is home to the Melbourne Cup event. This iconic event is the richest handicap race in Australia and is the jewel in the crown of the spring Melbourne Cup Festival.
Flemington also hosts a programme of racing throughout the year with 23 racedays. The course has excellent TAB facilities on site for all their events.
Gate 22 Station St, Caulfield East VIC 3145
Known as ‘The Heath’, Caulfield hosts around 20 racedays each year including the Blue Diamond Stakes, Caulfield Guineas and the Oakleigh Plate.
Situated just 8km from Melbourne’s CBD, Caulfield is home to the Melbourne Racing Club and was originally opened in 1853. The course has had several refurbishments over the last 150 years including a full track re-turf in 2005.
You can find the usual bookmaker facilities at Caulfield Park in addition to bar, lounge and dining areas.
Sandown Racecourse (aka Ladbrokes Park)
591-659 Princes Hwy, Springvale VIC 3171
Opening in March 1962, Sandown Racecourse is located about 25km to the south east of the city and is the only racecourse to be built in a metropolitan area in the 20th century.
The course has had several name changes over the last few years being renamed in 2008 to Sportingbet Park, William Hill Park in 2015 and is now known as Ladbrokes Park.
The racecourse hosts quite a lot of raceday events during the year including the Sandown Carnival held in November each year.
There are full TAB facilities on site.
Moonee Valley Racecourse
1 McPherson St, Moonee Ponds VIC 3039
Moonee Valley is around 4km from Melbourne Zoo in the north of the city and runs a regular programme of racing throughout the year.
Originally opening in 1883, ‘the Valley’ is home to the richest weight-for-age race in Australia, the W.S. Cox Plate. Other meets of note include the Manikato Stakes, William Reid Stakes and the Jayco Crystal Mile.
The racecourse is currently undergoing a major redevelopment which is set to create a new stadium and allow the existing land to be redeveloped for community use. Phase one of the project is due to start in 2018.
Until the development impacts on racing you can enjoy racedays with full TAB facilities. Don’t forget to get a tour of the historical site before it closes. You can book a raceday tour at 7.30pm for $5.
320 Racecourse Rd, Mornington VIC 3931
Just 45 minutes to the south of the city, Morningon Racecourse has been voted Victoria’s favourite racecourse for three years.
A friendly venue, you can enjoy dining facilities on site in addition the usual TAB amenities. The club holds ‘Clop Clop’ days which are suited for families and include free rides, amusements and kids activities.
The racecourse has a new grandstand and offers great dining as well as bar and lounge areas in addition to corporate and event planning services.
Australia is one of only eight countries in the world where greyhound racing is still legal; the other countries being the UK, Ireland, USA, Vietnam, China, Mexico and New Zealand.
There are two main race tracks in Melbourne where you can catch the dogs in action.
Sandown Greyhound Racing Club
View Rd, Springvale VIC 3171
The greyhound racing course in Springvale is a stone’s throw from the Sandown horse racing track.
Racing takes place on Thursday nights (from 7.00pm) and Sunday afternoons (from 2.00pm) with plenty of variety in circuits and prices.
Events include the Sandown Melbourne Cup – a high prize, greyhound version of the legendary horse race.
Entrance to all race meetings is free.
Full TAB facilities are offered on site along with regular bookmakers.
80 Northcorp Blvd, Broadmeadows VIC 3047
The Meadows hosts racing every Wednesday evening and during the day on Saturdays.
The racecourse is about 20km directly north of the city and holds regular events including the Silvef Chief Classic and the Sky Australian Cup.
Race night dining is available on site as well as bar and TAB facilities.
Lotteries & Keno
Lottery games are the most popular way for Australians to gamble and Melbourne’s residents are no different to the rest of the country in their appetite for a life changing jackpot.
The majority of game play is via the National Australian Lottery where draws are held regularly throughout the week offering big cash prizes. Run by the Tattersalls Group (the only government licensed lottery provider in the country), the Official Lottery website has full details of prize breakdowns and how to play.
There are several ways to play the national lottery including daily draws and weekly draws. The main jackpots are:
- Power Ball (Thurs): $3 million
- Monday & Wednesday Lotto (Mon & Weds): $1 million prize fund
- Saturday Pools (Sat): Estimated around $365k
- Tatts Lotto (Sat): $4 million
- Set for Life (Daily): $20k a month for 20 years
- Oz Lotto (Tues): $40 million
- Super Jackpot & Mega Jackpot (Any Day): Over $4 million and $5 million respectively.
You can buy tickets for the lottery via official outlets or online.
Victoria also has an additional daily draw lottery run by Intralot called Lucky Keno; the jackpot for a Spot 10 is a fixed $2 million.
You can buy instant win scratch cards that are offered by both Tatts as well as Intralot.
Keno is very popular in Melbourne and you can find a venue using the official Keno website. There are 92 places in and around the city where you can join in the fun with this high-prize, lottery like instant win game.
In addition to the 50 tables at the Crown Casino, there are many poker events being held in Melbourne throughout the week.
You can find full details of upcoming events via the Poker Nights website with the following venues regularly holding tournaments in the city.
- Maori Chief Hotel, South Melbourne: 7.00pm – Free entry
- Tankerville Hotel, Fitzory: 7.30pm – Free entry
- Arcadia Hotel, Yarra: 7.30pm – Free entry
- Town Hall Hotel, South Melbourne: 7.30pm – Free entry
- Hotel Barkly, St Kilda: 7.30pm – From $10 entry
- Prince Alfred Hotel, Port Melbourne: 7.30pm – $10 entry fee
- Vaucluse Hotel, Richmond: 7.30pm – Free entry
- St Kilda Army & Navy Club, St Kilda: 3.30pm – $11 entry fee
- Waterloo Cup Hotel, Moonee Ponds: 2.00pm – $17 entry fee
There are plenty of places to play bingo in Melbourne with several centres operating games throughout the week. We’ve picked the bingo halls who offer the best cash prizes and most frequent play schedules as well as those that are centrally located as well as reviewed a few of our favourites:
St Albans Bingo Centre
2 McKechnie St, St Albans VIC 3021
Opened in 1994, the St Albans Bingo Centre runs games every day of the week with cash prizes up to $5000 in some evening sessions.
They also run a Big Bucks Bingo Flyer for a chance to win up to $100,000 on Monday and Wednesday Nights and during the day on Thursday, Friday and Sunday.
Members can opt in to a loyalty scheme where points can be collected for every game played and exchanged for prizes in the loyalty cabinet.
The centre is open as follows:
- Monday: 9.00am to 2.30pm and 6.00pm to 10.00pm
- Tuesday to Thursday: 9.00am to 2.30pm and 6.00pm to 10.30pm
- Friday: 9.00 to 2.30pm and 5.00pm to 10.30pm
- Saturday: 10.00am to 3.30pm and 5.00pm to 11.30pm
- Sunday: 12.00pm to 4.30pm
1402 Sydney Rd, Melbourne VIC 3060
Fawkner has been operating since 1987 and holds regular and special bingo games throughout the week.
A friendly venue with a canteen on site you can expect big cash prizes and rolling jackpots.
Fawkner also has a bingo centre in Croydon at 335a Dorset Rd, Croydon VIC 3136.
The Melbourne bingo hall is open six days and seven nights a week.
Best of the Rest
- Billy Bingo, 1049 High St, Reservoir VIC 3073
- Fountain Gate Bingo, 5b Brechin Dr, Narre Warren VIC 3805
- Pran Bingo Centre, 5A Little Chapel St, Prahran VIC 3181
- Carrum Downs Bingo Centre, 554 Frankston – Dandenong Rd, Carrum Downs VIC 3201
- Bingo Bonanza, 16/560 – 650 High St, Epping VIC 3076
- Mega Bingo Clayton, 18/14-26 Audsley St, Clayton South VIC 3169
- Thomastown Bingo Centre, 187 Settlement Rd, Thomastown VIC 3074
- Gladstone Park Bingo, Shop 201, Level 1, Gladstone Park Shop. Ctr., Gladstone Park VIC 3043
- Werribee Bingo, MM12 Heaths Rd, Werribee VIC 3030
Electronic Gaming Machines (‘Pokies’/Slots)
The Crown Casino is licensed to provide 2500 electronic gaming machines with 27,500 other machines licensed in Victoria.
Most of these are located around the city in various hotels, social clubs and bars. The top 10 most popular venues for pokies in Melbourne are:
- Batman’s Hill on Collins, 623 Collins Street, Melbourne: 22 EGMs
- Bourke Hill’s Welcome Stranger, 128 Bourke Street, Melbourne: 100 EGMs
- Celtic Club, 316-320 Queen Street, Melbourne: 46 EGMs
- Clock’s, 17 Flinders Street Railway Station, Melbourne: 100 EGMs
- Golden Nugget, 117 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne: 60 EGMs
- Headquarters Tavern, Epsom Road, Flemington: 80 EGMs
- Mail Exchange Hotel, 688 Bourke Street, Melbourne: 80 EGMs
- Mercure Grand Hotel, 195 Swanson Street, Melbourne: 90 EGMs
- Players on Lygon, 186-200 Lygon Street, Melbourne: 75 EGMs
- Shanghai Club, 242-244 Little Bourke Street, Melbourne: 48 EGMs
There are dozens of TAB facilities offered in sports bars across the city including social clubs where you can enjoy the facilities as a member or in public bars and hotels.
Here is our pick of those venues across Melbourne and its outlying districts where you can enjoy live sport with access to full TAB (Totalisator Agency Board) and/or EBT (Easy Bet Terminal) amenities and enjoy a bevvie at a good watering hole:
- Club Kilsyth, 1-15 Canterbury Rd, Bayswater North VIC 3153
- The Palms, 1 Rosamond Rd, Maidstone VIC 3012
- Doxa Social Club, 315 Elizabeth Street Melbourne, Melbourne VIC 3000
- Golden Nugget, 115-117 Lonsdale Street, Melbourne VIC 3000
- The Croydon Hotel, 47 Maroondah Hwy, Croydon VIC 3136
- The Golden Fleece Hotel, 257-263 High Street, Melton VIC 3337
- Junction Hotel, 1 Plenty Road, Preston VIC 3072
- The Sugargum, Gourlay Road, Sydenham VIC 3037
- The Glasshouse, Station Street, Caulfield East VIC 3145
Featured image via Pixabay.