Online Casino Australia
Australian online casinos are big business for the Commonwealth. Oceania, a geographic area that contains Australia and New Zealand, is one of the larger world gambling markets. Aussies are proud of their cultural heritage, one that includes a long history of horse racing and other forms of betting. Not many nations can say that their biggest holiday of the year centers on gambling, but that’s the case with Australians and the Melbourne Cup.
How popular are online casinos in Australia? According to one Australian gaming authority, 4 in every 5 Australian adults placed at least one legal bet in 2011, the most-recent year that such figures were made available. We learn from the same study that the Australian gambling industry is worth more than twenty billion dollars a year – that figure includes all land-based and online gambling, including lotteries.
Are Australian Online Casinos Legal?
Yes, online gambling in Australia is legal – for customers, that is.
Gambling has been an Australian tradition since the country was settled. Online gambling didn’t hit the big time in the Commonwealth until the late 1990s. Around the year 2000, the first anti-gaming stirrings were heard from the capital, and it was clear that the Australian government was taking an interest in the business. Within a year, the federal government was holding hearings on Web-based gambling, supposedly in response to public concern over how the industry was affecting citizens.
The anti-gaming furor in Australia was short-lived. The only legislation of note to come out of this brief period was the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, known as the IGA. What this new law did was similar to what the US government did by enacting the UIGEA. This law does not make online gambling illegal for customers – it focuses on gambling providers instead.
The IGA makes it a crime for “… anyone to provide an interactive gambling service to a customer physically present in Australia.” Gaming providers found in violation of this law are to be charged penalties of up to $1.1 million for every day of illegal operation.
Popular Ways to Gamble in Australia and New Zealand
Australians love their casino gambling – especially the pokies. “Pokie” is slang for “poker machine,” the Australian word for a slot machine. Australians love slot machines even more than Americans, spending billions of dollars on the game every year. In fact, bets on pokies represent the biggest single chunk of gambling revenue in the entire industry. Aussie casinos tend to host a library of games similar to any Western gaming venue – popular table games include baccarat, craps, and blackjack, along with some games brought over and popularized from Asia. Sic Bo and Pai Gow are both bigger games in Oceania than in the US or Europe.
Lotteries are incredibly popular across Australia. The government of Australia was one of the first to institute lottery systems, during the early 1920s. What started as small government-run fundraisers have become massive privately-run games of chance. The two biggest lotteries in the country are called Oz Lotto and Powerball.
Keno is a big deal in Australia. You could compare the popularity of keno in Australia and New Zealand to the popularity of bingo in the American south. The game is so popular, Australia’s cities are dotted with keno halls, stand-alone businesses providing games of keno and a few poker machines.
Australians love their bingo, too. Federal law allows for both charity-run bingo games and bingo games and tournaments run by territorial governments. These are often held in large-venue bingo or keno halls. You’ll commonly see bingo games, both live and electronic, at Australian casinos.
Sports betting is legal across most of Australia. It’s also incredibly popular. Most states have laws explicitly stating that sports bets are fully legal. The locus of sports betting action in the country is probably the states of Victoria and New South Wales. Between the two of them, these states contain more than 3,000 bet shops and kiosks. It’s also rare to find a casino in any Australian state without at least a small sports betting window.
Pari-mutuel bets are a cultural institution for Australians. Since at least the mid-19th century, bets on races have been a regular part of Australian society. A government entity, the Australian Racing Board, controls pari-mutuel bets. You’ll find tons of race betting facilities across the country, and every sports betting shop has some kind of simulcast wagering option as well. Victoria and New South Wales are, again, the epicenter of race betting in-country.
Poker is becoming something of a national pastime for Australians. Australia is home to the Asia Pacific Poker Tour. What poker player hasn’t dreamed of playing in the Aussie Millions tournament? Since Australia’s attitude towards gambling is generally liberal, don’t be surprised to see live poker games in the neighborhood pub. Sometimes these are friendly games, but it’s common to see money changing hands, too.
Notice anything about the list of popular Australian games? Almost all of the above options are available on the Internet. The one option that’s not generally available online in Australia – the state-run lottery. But if you’re a fan of lottery games, online versions of scratch cards and lotto-style games exist, and are legal for people in Australia to play.
Casinos offering head-to-head poker, sports and race bets, bingo, keno, and casino games are available to people living inside the Commonwealth’s borders, and they’re fully legal to play. Consult territorial and federal law or a legal authority on the subject if you’re that concerned about the legality of Australian online casinos.