A popular stereotype says that Asians love gambling. And while that’s a fact that’s probably true to a certain degree, there’s no getting around the fact that people from East Asia cannot be compared to Australians when it comes to punting.
On that note, a piece from a local Las Vegas paper mentioned that Australians are actually synonymous with problem gambling. In fact, the article dubbed them the greatest gamblers on the planet. It seems that every Australian who’s not a minor, on average, loses what amounts to $1,000 each year — with an emphasis on Western Australia.
When it comes to gambling regulations in Australia, the local laws have actually been quite liberal about the practice. There are numerous land-based casinos across the country, and some of them offer a variety of different gambling activities; including poker, and electronic games as well. But among them, video poker devices (colloquially known as pokies) are certainly the most widely spread. There aren’t many gambling sites that don’t offer them — from South Australia all the way to the Northern Territories.
As for sports betting, it’s definitely allowed but also regulated by the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB). The TAB allows both tote bets and fixed-odds wagers, and it has plenty of outposts all across the country, numbering almost 3,000. They’re present everywhere — from the scantily populated areas of Oz to the sprawling cities.
Moving onto online betting, the situation is slightly different. The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, which we’ll talk in more detail below, was designed to completely eradicate online poker rooms and casino gambling on the Internet. But changes made in the meantime have lowered penalties for players and online casino operators alike. Thus, players from Australia continue playing at online casinos with impunity, even to this day. But seeing as the fees for operators are a bit steeper, there aren’t many Aussie-based online casinos.
On the other hand, plenty of offshore casinos blatantly disregard Australian restrictions and accept local residents, which means that players who wish to do so may still indulge in online gambling in Oz.
The gambling regulations in Australia basically exist on two different levels. Firstly, there’s the central government and parliament. And this legislative body provides constant supervision for the gambling industry. It frequently amends old laws that dictate the terms of gambling in the country while also passing new ones on an almost annual basis. Apart from that, you’ll find that all of the different Australian states and territories also have their own local regulations, coming from various regional regulatory authorities.
Interactive Gambling Act
In 2001, the Australian Parliament passed what is now known as the Interactive Gambling Act. According to this piece of legislation, online gambling was a harmful practice that needed to be eliminated on Australian soil. With that intent, the IGA harshly targeted online casinos all over the country. And while players weren’t in any particular danger of legal persecution for online gambling, the operators themselves faced harsh penalties.
For example, online operators were barred from offering real-money rewards for their online clientele as long as the players were Australian residents. And this prohibition carried with it a harsh penalty for disobedience. To be more precise, a monetary fee ranging up to $200,000 for any individual, and if the operator was a registered company, $1.1 million. That doesn’t seem like much until you realize that these fees are daily; meaning the basic fee is multiplied for every day of illegal practice.
Quite notably, though, sports betting was exempt from the restrictions. Also, companies running online gambling websites in Oz were ironically still allowed to offer services to residents of other countries — as long as they were on the list of ”specified countries.” And online lotteries also faced no restrictions as long as the service provider in question would get a license from the state, and wouldn’t sell scratch-off cards on the Internet.
While sports wagering wasn’t banned outright, the IGA also tried to curtail the practice of real-time sports betting as it was viewed as a great source of problems for active gamblers. But this part of the Interactive Gambling Act didn’t prove to be as efficient, seeing as a long series of legal loopholes gave leeway to operators who offered such bets.
Other Legislative Changes
Most interested parties, including the regulators and operators of land-based casinos, were happy with the outcome of the Interactive Gambling Act. The decade since its passing went along without any major amendments to the act. A commission that reviewed the act a year later, in 2011, didn’t make any notable changes to the law.
The first major upsets came in 2016 when Alan Tudge got his appointment as the Minister of Human Services. That was indeed a turning point in the legislative stance towards gambling in Australia, primarily because his administration set out to modernize the legislation related to the $20 billion worth gambling industry in the country.
Tudge worked on this with incredible zeal, making sweeping changes that brought unease to the Australian gambling industry. Within a year, more related legislation was passed by the Parliament. And furthermore, certain revisions of the Interactive Gambling Act were passed over the course of 2017.
These were primarily intended for the bettors themselves, paving the way for more responsible gambling. Such alterations sought to change casino gaming from a dangerous vice to a safer pastime. Thus, those who made wagers on sporting events now had a new option of joining a register of self-excluded players. They could choose the period of the exclusion themselves but for no less than three months.
Also, online bookmakers were obligated to give their customers pre-commitment options. In other words, the players could give themselves a limit on betting beforehand, thus eliminating the possibility of financial issues brought on by gambling. And these sportsbooks were prohibited from giving customers any free credit or loans for further bets.