Unravelling Australian Online Gambling Laws

Online gambling is extremely popular in Australia, but do you know how is it regulated, or who even supervises online gambling laws? Don’t go looking anywhere else because we’ve compiled all the legislation – in the most reader friendly manner – to answer what all Australians wonder at some point: Is online gambling legal in my country?

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Understanding the Interactive Gambling Act 2001

The Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) of 2001 protects Australians by regulating and controlling online gambling activities within the country. With the potential harms associated with online gambling – especially now that the internet has changed the way we live, work and play – the IGA accomplished an important role promoting responsible gambling practices.

Understanding the IGA is essential for everyone: companies hoping to offer gaming services and gamblers alike. But don’t worry. We cover the objectives and key provisions of the law on this article.

Objectives of the Interactive Gambling Act

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Protecting users

The act aims to shield customers from addiction, financial strain, and social repercussions caused by irresponsible gambling.

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Preventing criminal activity

By regulating the online gambling industry, the IGA mitigates the risk of money laundering, fraud, and other illicit activities associated with unlicensed casinos.

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Ensuring fairness

The act seeks to maintain the integrity of online gambling activities, promoting transparency, fair play, and ethical actions.

Key Restrictions and Prohibitions

Here are some of the most important provisions outlined in the IGA:

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Unlicensed casinos

The act prohibits online casinos without license from operating in AUS

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Licensing requirement

Off-shore casinos can offer gambling services if they possess license

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Advertising limits

To minimise exposure to vulnerable individuals such as minors

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Ban on in-play betting

Which only affects to sporting events

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2017 Update to Australian Online Gambling Laws

The Commonwealth government made a large update to the IGA in 2017 to address the proliferation of unlicensed so-called ‘offshore’ casinos and sports books. The Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2017 went above online gambling companies and created a code for how internet service providers (ISP) are to address interactive gambling services that run afoul of the country’s regulations.

All ISPs must provide their customers with the option to filter out all identified unlicensed or illegal gambling websites. Essentially, this filter blocks consumers from accessing illegal gambling content. By shifting responsibility for blocking gambling content from the companies themselves to the ISPs, the government makes it less likely for customers to easily access offshore gambling services.

Other reforms in the 2017 amendment included restricting which gambling companies can offer their customers credit. With some exceptions, online casinos are prohibited from acting like a bank for their gamblers and can’t allow wagers without funds on deposit.

The amendment also strengthened the legal bite for any company or individual who attempts to operate or advertise illegal gambling. In addition to criminal penalties, individuals can face monetary fines up to $1,665,000, while corporations can be fined up to $8,325,000.

Consumer protection measures

In 2019, the Australian government updated the IGA to provide a national self-exclusion register for the first time. This register allows people who are struggling with problem gambling a simple method to prevent further online wagering. Once a person signs-up with the national self-exclusion register, all licensed interactive gambling companies must take steps to ensure they cannot access online wagering services.

Previously, self-exclusion registers were a hodgepodge of state and territorial lists or company by company. Now, someone having trouble controlling their gambling can simply register in one place and be blocked from all legal online gambling providers nationwide.

The self-exclusion register is not the only consumer protection used in coordination with the IGA. The Australian Department of Social Services created a National Consumer Protection

Framework for Online Wagering (NCPF) that is intended to apply uniformly throughout the Commonwealth, regardless of state or territory. The NCPF contains ten consumer protection measures that are intended to reduce the harms from problem online gambling.

These measures are varied and include references to parts of the IGA and its subsequent updates, like the self-exclusion register and general prohibition from casinos extending credit to their online customers. However, the NCPF goes further, with requirements regarding easy account closure mechanisms and prohibitions on inducements.

For example, online wagering services cannot use any rewards, benefits, or credits to convince players to sign-up for an account. The same framework also restricts casinos from making customers play promotional tokens or credits a certain number of times before being able to bank the amount.

Eventually, the NCPF intends to have all online casino and gambling companies use standard language regarding potential harms from wagering. Creating uniform language for the companies to use in advertising and marketing materials is intended to eliminate consumer confusion and clearly convey the downsides of problem gaming.

Another one of the NCPF’s provisions goes beyond the national self-exclusion register by requiring online casinos and sports books to offer pre-gambling deposit limitations.

Customers can pre-set their limits before engaging in any wagering. These limits cannot be instantaneously changed, which is supposed to give gamblers a cooling-off period before risking additional money.

All ten of the provisions in the NCPF are designed to work with the regulations contained in the original Interactive Gambling Act 2001. Combined with its subsequent updates, the IGA creates a restricted online gambling marketplace throughout the entire Commonwealth.

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The role of the Australian Communications and Media Authority

Various state and territorial parties license and regulate gambling companies, but the IGA applies to every casino aiming to do online business with Australians. In fact, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) maintains a register of all casinos licensed to offer interactive gambling anywhere within the Commonwealth.

These online gambling services are allowed to sign-up and stake players in Australia. Any online casino that is not licensed – and on the ACMA register, is offering illegal services. Luckily for you – and us, all the casinos we review are licensed and registered.

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Benefits of National Licensing

Having a national licensing system in the online gambling market has many benefits that make gambling safer, fairer, and more fun for everyone.

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Consistency and Fairness

National licensing means that the rules and standards for online gambling are the same across the entire country. This makes things less confusing and ensures that everyone is treated fairly.

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Keeping You Safe

With national licensing, there are strict rules to protect you when you gamble online. These rules can include things like tools to help you gamble responsibly, making sure you’re old enough to play, and programs to help you take a break if you need it.

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Honesty and Trustworthiness

National licensing helps make sure that online gambling companies are honest and operate transparently. They have to follow the rules, get audited regularly, and play fair. This helps prevent fraud, money laundering, and other illegal activities, making the industry more trustworthy.

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Easier for Companies and Players

With national licensing, companies don’t have to go through a complicated process to get licenses from different states. They can get one license that allows them to operate anywhere in Australia. This makes things simpler, and it means you have more choices and access to a wider range of online gambling options.

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Good Reputation

When Australia has a well-regulated national licensing system, it shows that we take online gambling seriously. This can attract reputable companies and show the world that we care about protecting players and maintaining a fair and honest industry.

Are you a professional gambler? Keep reading

Australian gamblers are lucky as their occasional winnings are free from tax. However, professional gamblers must pay tax on their winnings. Australian courts have struggled with defining who is and who is not a professional gambler. But for most individuals, you can build your bankroll away from the tax-collector’s prying eyes.

Who is a professional gambler in Australia?

Since professional gamblers are subject to taxation on their winnings, it is critical to understand who is and who is not considered a professional gambler.

Australian courts have not been explicit about a definition. Unfortunately, this means casual gamblers may unknowingly be considered professionals, depending on their unique circumstances.

One key test for who is considered a professional gambler is whether the individual is carrying on a business of gambling. This makes sense, as “professional” indicates someone is acting in a business-like capacity.

But what are factors that lead to a conclusion you may be carrying on a business of gambling? There are three crucial questions to examine:

  1. Is the activity conducted in the manner of a business operation?
  2. Is the individual in possession of specialist knowledge regarding gambling?
  3. How large is the gambling operation?

The answers to these three questions, taken together, will determine whether a player must pay tax on their gambling winnings.

Should you pay tax on your gambling winnings?

Gambling operators and companies operate differently and need to pay tax on their revenues. For operators licensed under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, their business operations are taxable.

But because of the courts’ test, most gamblers will not need to pay tax on occasional gambling winnings. For gamblers who clearly are only betting on the ponies or a footy game occasionally, there is little risk. However, there are certain circumstances you should carefully avoid.

The first is betting on an industry where you have inside, special knowledge. For example, if you are employed in horse-breeding or training, you may want to avoid betting at the races. Or, if you do, consider paying tax on your winnings. Your connection to the racing industry may make your wagering professional.

The second is betting large sums of money. If you regularly throw down a few low-level sports bets, you will both avoid the tax-authority’s radar and be unlikely to be deemed professional. But tossing around a lot of dollars can draw attention. Especially for those gamblers who spend a lot of time developing betting models or doing research, large bets could create a problem.

Still reading? Check out these other gambling guides

Online Gambling Laws in Australia FAQs

Can I play at gambling sites for free?

There are many sites that will allow you to play for free first before you bet real money at online casinos. This is to help you decide whether or not you like the site, its casino games, its choice of sporting event to bet on, or the number of poker tournaments you can enter.

How old do you have to be to gamble online in Australia?

The minimum age for gambling online in Australia is 18 years old.

Who decides the gambling laws in Australia?

Each state is allowed to make their own gambling laws, but the Commonwealth oversees everything.

Will Australia legalise online gambling?

It is not illegal for Aussies to gamble online in offshore casino sites. There have been many attempts to legalise online gambling and have Aussie made online casinos, but many have failed. In November 2019, many gambling sites left Australia due to regulatory pressure. Online sports betting can be done via legal operators, however.

What resources are there for problem gambling in Australia?

There is a host of excellent resources available online. If you or someone you know needs help, head over to these resources on responsible gambling:

Ian Thompson

Poker Expert

A poker fanatic at heart, Ian is never too far away from the felt. He has been following the game since he was at college, and started writing for numerous online poker sites. The opportunity to have his on by-lines brought Ian to Gamble Online Australia, and we’re super happy to have his knowledge at our fingertips.
When he’s not writing about poker, Ian is honing his skills online, including his poker face! He hopes to one day win big at a WSOP event and meet his hero, Daniel Negreanu.

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