Australians have been called on several occasions “the world’s biggest gamblers,” which might be an indication that gambling laws in the country are on the liberal side. And indeed, there is no law to prohibit gambling services in Australia. Residents are free to try their hand at the game of chance of their choice both in brick-and-mortar casinos and online casinos.
So the short answer to the question posed in the title is that it is completely legal for people to gamble in Australia. And it seems that locals do not hold back at all, as the country has the highest gambling rate in the world, with more than 80% of adults in Australia engaging in some kind of gambling activity.
As for gambling laws, regulation of the Australian gambling industry is done on two levels: the central government supervises the activity and is responsible for amending relevant general laws, while different regional authorities deal with regulation at state and territorial level. Some of these include: ACT Gambling and Racing Commission, Licensing Commission in Northern Territory, New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing, and more.
It’s also important to mention that winnings from gambling in Australia are not taxed mainly because gambling is considered just a hobby, not a profession, so any gain from this recreational activity does not qualify as income, and because the government does tax gambling service operators.
On the territory of Australia, there are numerous licensed brick-and-mortar casinos where people can gamble legally. These venues usually offer poker games, as well as table, cards and electronic games. Besides that, video poker machines (known as “pokies”) and slot games are also a common sight in bars, pubs and clubs all over the country.
Currently, online gambling operations are not legal in Australia. This is due to the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016, which was passed in 2017. The act basically prohibits online casinos from providing gambling services over the Internet to Australians. Exceptions can only be made if the player presents a license issued by the Australian government in this respect.
However, there are enough gambling operators based overseas that do accept Australian customers. This means that people who really want to go online to quench their thirst for gambling, have a lot of options at their disposal.
Authorities in the field believe that online casinos will be legalized sometime in the future, especially considering that, at the moment, the government is losing significant amounts of money in tax revenue to offshore operators.
Under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA), it is illegal to offer or advertise “real money” online interactive gambling services, including here casino games and online poker. However, not all online gambling is banned, as sports betting through licensed operators is permitted as long as the betting is done before the start of the sporting event. This means that live “in-play” betting is considered “interactive”. Nonetheless, Australians can engage in live “in-play” betting through overseas betting providers.