How They Gamble in Australia: Legislative Insight

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Gamblers Parliament House

Part of the Oceania region and a country of “economic miracle,” Australia defines gambling as one of its major entertainment industries. What’s more, the Aussies are considered to be among the most difficult to control when it comes to their favorite activity. Known mainly for the abundance of its slot machines, or “pokies”, Australia has seen a long and complicated way to today’s legislative and social acceptance of casino games. Today, the Australian gambling industry is encompassed by multiple controversies and discussions rooted in the inhospitable response of the government to online gaming opportunities. Nevertheless, the beyond-online enterprise is indeed thriving due to its legal status and a rather liberal approach by societal and governmental bodies.

What’s more, the current volatile status of online gaming in Australia does not inhibit the passion for gaming in general in this country; it is steadily gaining momentum thanks to the unrestrained enjoyment for gaming by carefree Aussies. Their love for gaming helped the industry acquire an iconic image and become one of the leading sectors in Oz. Still, as in any other country, Australian gaming has developed its distinctive legislative peculiarities and other characteristics that should be noted before visiting this country of kangaroos and gaming.

General Legislative and Regulative Frameworks

Gambling Laws Judges GavelGambling businesses in Australia are regulated by both state and territorial governments. To be more precise, each state of the country has its own regulatory body that supervises the gaming businesses for that region. Here is information on the Australian states with their regulatory gambling authorities:

  • Australian Capital Territory — ACT Gambling and Racing Commission
  • New South Wales — Liquor and Gaming New South Wales
  • Northern Territory — Licensing Commission
  • Queensland — Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (QOLGR)
  • South Australia — Independent Gambling Authority
  • Tasmania — Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission
  • Victoria — Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation
  • Western Australia — Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor

In more general terms, gaming in this country is also regulated by legislation of the Commonwealth. The gambling laws in Australia have proven to be very favorable for the admirers of this industry throughout the country.

Online Gambling As a Separate Liable Entity

Access is extremely different in Australia when it comes to online gambling. Online gambling is classified as a harmful and debilitating activity due to its ease of access and potential for addiction exposure. Thus, providing online gaming services in Australia is prohibited and considered illegal. In 2001, the Australian government implemented The Interactive Gambling Act aimed at prohibiting any online gaming activity on the part of operators. According to the Act, an online gaming operator may not offer their services to Australian citizens. However, citizens can gamble online by patronizing a casino that holds a license of any other country. The Act also banned the advertising of “real-money” betting to Aussies.

Gambling Laws Guy holding chips playing poker

Still, Australian-based operators were permitted to offer their services to players outside the country, apart from a list of “designated countries.” Most noteworthy, the Act permitted online sports betting, meaning that licensed operators could provide their online betting services to Australians as long as players engaged in placing bets only before the beginning of a game.

No matter how rigid and effective the regulations proved to be, the growth of problem gambling among the population as well as uncontrolled offshore gambling led the authorities to review the 2001 Act. In 2017, the IGA was amended to curb the expansion of online gambling activity market as well as limit the problem gambling in the country. Specifically, the Australian parliament passed The Interactive Gambling Amendment Act which predominantly places numerous restrictions on offshore gaming activities and unauthorized gaming operators. Among the exceptions, the Act permits telephone betting and horse racing betting. Only operators that hold a specified official license may advertise their services on online gambling platforms.

Taxation

Online casino Australian moneyTaxation distinguishes Australian gambling legislation from other countries’ gambling regulations. Winnings in games of chance here are not taxable for the following reasons:

  • since betting is not a profession, the government won’t levy taxes on the profits gained from this activity;
  • the authorities view gambling profits as the result of luck and not professionalism or skill;
  • the government does benefit from the gaming enterprise by collecting tax revenue from gaming operators.

Given the loose taxation mechanism in Oz, it occurs that the Australian tax system may be considered one of the most favorable in the world. Some consider the liberal taxation law in the country to be greatly compromised by the strict suppression of online gambling services.

The Outlook of Online Gambling in Australia

Considering the strict control measures the authorities have implemented,  Australian online gambling market is inevitably losing reputable and well-respected operators. The good news is that the gambling-welcoming society will not accept the overly “caring” and “protective” steps of the government, and citizens have already actively demonstrated their concern about the current state of things.  Many believe the government will give a second thought in the nearest future to the mechanism of regulations and laws now imposed on online gambling in Australia.

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