Australia is a country with one of the highest proportions of gamblers on earth. Online gambling especially is incredibly popular in Australia, with statistics showing that about 80% of Australians take part in gambling online at least once a year.
With such high rates, it was expected that the world’s top online gambling sites would try to get into the blooming Australian market. In more recent years, however, the landscape has changed quite drastically, and with it, more limits have been put in place. Aussie players can now enjoy only a certain limited range of games.
With everything happening in Australia especially regarding online gambling, it can leave players confused regarding the legalities of online gambling. In this guide, we take a look at the history of gambling in Australia, their current laws and how they affect players.
In the past, the law had a little bit of a grey spot when it comes to online gambling. Players were free to enjoy most forms of online gambling to their heart's content.
Since 1901 players have been able to indulge in gambling especially card games and horse racing. The government also announced their first lottery gaming system in the 1920s as a way to cash in on some revenue from this popular pastime. In the 1970s slot machines and casinos became the next big thing with players across the nation taking part in the fun.
It is clear to see that throughout the years the Australian government has done everything possible to try and regulate gambling. The only downfall was the constant growth and improvement of technology and trends. The Australian government has had a long term battle with online casinos especially internationally operated ones. In more recent years, however, the government has slowly started to gain control and implement legislation that will change the future of online gambling in Australia.
The Interactive Gambling Act passed in 2001 seemed to satisfy most parties and an entire decade passed before any major changes were brought in. Upon review in 2011, the IGA received only recommendations for a series of changes. Everything changed in 2016.
Alan Tudge became the Minister of Human Services within the government-run by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull in 2016. Tudge was determined to take the bull by the horns as one of his biggest tasks was to get the nation’s billion-dollar gambling industry up to modern standards. In that year he introduced new legislation which was reviewed before being passed into law during 2017.
The Interactive Gambling Act Amendment Bill of 2016 placed stringent regulations on the otherwise out-of-control iGaming industry provided by offshore gambling operators since these operators were not subject to Australian gambling laws. The Bill wasn’t yet fully passed before many major operators made the decision to withdraw from the Australian market.
The new Bill required all offshore gambling operators to be licensed for iGaming within Australia. Without a license, their services are rendered illegal in Australia, and operators who violate this are subject to blacklisting, their IP addresses being blocked, and travel restrictions placed on their officers, as well as other “significant penalties”.
The amendment bill also banned virtual sportsbooks from making credit line offers to players, or offering them free bets. The bill also bans any and all gambling advertisements during live sports events, and players are no longer able to bet on a sporting event while that game was in progress. The bill also brought changes allowing sports bettors to voluntarily join an online self-exclusion register for a period of three months or more. In addition, it forced online bookmakers to offer a pre-commitment scheme to their players.
The new Bill isn’t all that bad, as it simply aims to increase the regulation of the online gambling market rather than destroy it. Offshore operators will still be able to provide their services to Australian players if they go through the procedure of getting licensed by the local regulators of the country. While some might consider such laws merely as a warning rather than serious, the Australian government has gone to great lengths to show that they are not playing around.
Of course, the sudden withdrawal of offshore online casinos left many players in a panic and struggling to get back the money still in their accounts. It just goes to show that the new law was to be taken very seriously.
With the implementation of the new Interactive Gambling Bill, many players are confused as to what is happening regarding taxes. Since the start, the Australian government has refrained from taxing players on gambling winnings. The main reason for this is that gambling is considered a hobby or recreational activity. The government doesn’t consider winnings as an income, but rather the result of good luck, and instead of taxing players, they tax operators.
To this date, it is still the same. Even with the new IGB implemented, players are not taxed on any of their winnings as long as they are obtained from a secure and legal site. Operators, on the other hand, have seen an increase in the level of tax they are required to pay in order to lawfully provide their services to citizens in Australia. Speculators believe that this is also one of the main reasons why plenty of online operators have opted to completely withdraw from Australia.
The current gambling laws are quite clear in their determination to keep illegal gambling at bay and protect players from harm or the development of a possible gambling problem. While the strict new regulations have resulted in many online operators withdrawing their services from the Australian market, there are still some online casinos that Australian players can bet at.
In simple terms, any sites offering real-money games to Australians are considered illegal especially if they don’t have the correct licensing. The government has made it clear that they will take serious steps against all transgressors. Fortunately, this does not apply to Australian citizens. You as a player can still participate in online gambling, and no harm will come to you.
It would be wise however to choose from the selected online casinos that have been deemed safe to play at. Especially considering the strong laws and regulations regarding online gambling, it’s best to play responsibly at a site that is guaranteed to pay out your winnings and provide you with fair and secure gambling experience.
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