Gambling Regulation in Australia

Australia is fanatical about its cricket and there is wider interest in gambling too but what restrictions apply in this sports-mad country?

Interactive Gambling Act 2001 – IGA

This is the current piece of legislation which covers gambling laws in Australia. The year 2001 is significant because this is a time when online digital platforms were opening up and many countries around the world had to react to a situation where platforms could easily be accessed.

The law makes it illegal for many forms of gambling to take place in Australia. Both local and offshore gambling industry operators are covered by the IGA rulings but naturally there are exceptions.

Sports betting, including horse racing, is allowed but all bets must be accepted and closed before the event begins. Interestingly, the responsibility for adhering to the legislation lies solely with gambling operators who are required to block Australians from accessing restricted services. Customers can therefore opt to play with any site that is open to them and there will be no comeback from the Australian government.

While sportsbooks are allowed to trade in Australia, subject to strict licensing and regulation, it’s entirely different for online casinos. Games of chance are outlawed by the act and this would cover roulette, blackjack, poker and similar casino favourites.

State run lotteries and charitable organisations can circumnavigate these rules but any private digital operator will find it almost impossible to set up in business here. Australia is, however, a land of contradictions and there are exceptions to the rules. Video poker games, known as ‘pokies’ are played across the country and are an important source of national revenue.

Offshore operators can also find ways to provide online gambling services without any recourse from the Australian government.

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State and Territory Level Regulation

The 2001 act lays down the wider legislation across the country while individual states within Australia have their own governing bodies who enforce the law and regulate any operators that open up in business.

Victoria

Within the state of Victoria, sports betting and any other legal practises are overseen by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation. The organisation was founded in 2012 and replaced a previous governing body known as the Victorian Commission for Gambling Regulation.

Their job is to ensure that the rules laid down by the interactive gambling act of 2001, together with those of the Gambling Regulation Act of 2003 and the Casino Control Act of 1991, are adhered to.

As with all states within Australia, there are no changes to the overall rules as laid down by that interactive gambling act 2001. The Victorian commission is merely there to make sure that the laws are not being broken while issuing licenses to any local operators that are looking to open up.

In terms of cricket, Victoria compete in the Sheffield Shield while two teams – Melbourne Renegades and Melbourne Stars – are involved in the T20 Big Bash.

New South Wales

Australia’s first official horse racing meeting took place in New South Wales and the state has a rich sporting history. The Blues take part in the Sheffield Shield and are the competition’s most successful side. Meanwhile, Sydney Thunder and Sydney Sixers are the representatives for NSW in the Big Bash League.

The responsibility for overseeing the regulations as laid down by the IGA falls to Liquor and Gaming New South Wales. As we saw in Victoria and will see moving forward with other states, liquor and gambling often go hand in hand with inspectors moving through the region to ensure that rules are being adhered to.

Those inspectors will assess physical premises within the state boundaries and will look to shut down any illegal gambling activities. At the same time, Liquor and Gaming New South Wales are in place to regulate and issue licenses to authorised online gambling providers.

Queensland

Queensland is the second largest state in Australia and it is situated in the north east of the country. Within its boundaries, the legislation laid down by the interactive gambling act of 2001 is overseen by the Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation.

Once again, there is a split emphasis on both alcohol and gaming but the question of online gambling is at the forefront of this organisation. This is the third most populous state in the country and, like all Australians, Queenslanders love their sport and they also like a flutter.

Inspectors from the Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation will operate around the country to ensure that these activities are carried out in a responsible and legal manner. As part of their remit, the governing body will ensure that online gambling operators are licensed and are compliant with all of the rules and regulations set down by the IGA of 2001.

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Australian Capital Territory

The capital city of Canberra is located in this state but this is often seen as something of a wasteland as far as sport is concerned. The Australian Capital Territory (ACT) has no team in the Sheffield Shield and there is a general absence of major sports teams.

That’s starting to change as the Manuka Oval in Canberra has been home to a number of international cricket matches. As far as the population is concerned, this is another sports mad state and those located in the ACT also like to get involved with the online gambling industry.

Any gambling that goes on within the state does so under the auspices of the Gambling and Racing Commission. The emphasis here is solely on gambling and the aim of the organisation is to license and educate while ensuring that anyone providing betting services does so in accordance with the interactive gaming act of 2001.

South Australia

The responsibility for regulating online sports betting and any other form of gambling in South Australia falls to the Attorney General’s Department. Once again, they are there to enforce all rules relating to online sports betting and other forms of gambling under the interactive gambling act of 2001.

This is another region which embraces both sports and betting and South Australia is also host to a high density of casinos. The biggest of these is Sky City in Adelaide which attracts a wide range of tourists every year. Casinos are big business here but the main attraction for locals is the availability of sports betting providers.

The demand for online gambling matches the enthusiasm for sport within the state. South Australia were one of the founding members of the Sheffield Shield at the start of the 1892/93 season while the Adelaide Strikers are the representatives in the domestic Big Bash competition.

Tasmania

Isolated off the east coast of the country, Tasmanians are very much their own people but the rules relating to online sports betting are the same here as they are on the mainland. In terms of gambling, the rules specified by the interactive gambling act are enforced by the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission.

This organisation is included within the local department of treasury and finance and it is responsible for the licensing of any online gambling providers while ensuring that they comply with the current regulations.

It’s a small island in relation to the mainland but Tasmania is a hotbed for sports. The state has been part of the Sheffield Shield since the start of the 1977/78 season while the Hobart Hurricanes are the team for locals to watch in the Big Bash League. The Bellerive Oval is the main cricket stadium and the venue got to host its first Ashes test match in 2022.

Western Australia

Perth is the state capital of Western Australia and the hub of sports as far as this region is concerned. The Perth Scorchers have consistently been the most successful team in the history of Big Bash cricket while Western Australian teams have been involved in the Sheffield Shield since the start of the 1947/48 season.

Western Australia loves its sports and that leads to inevitable interest in sports betting. The Western Australian Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor are the body on hand to execute those laws that were laid down by the Australian government. The Minister for Racing and Gaming oversees the organisation which is responsible for policy and compliance throughout the region.

Like all governing bodies overseeing matters relating to online sports betting and all other forms of gambling, the Western Australian Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor will also regulate any online operator looking to set up here.

Northern Territory

At the very northern tip of Australia, the Northern Territory is also something of an outpost when it comes to sporting grounds. Darwin and Alice Springs are the main locations here and, while sporting venues may be thin on the ground, there are three land based casinos in the state.

The laws of the interactive gambling act of 2001 are overseen by two separate governing bodies. The NT Racing Commission covers all things related to horse racing and greyhounds while all other sports betting is governed by the Director General of Licensing. Compliance, license and education are among the duties that both of these organisations are responsible for.

As with all other states, the authorities within the Northern Territory will largely deal with coin operated machines that are located here. These are the famous ‘pokies’ that are located in bars and clubs across the length and breadth of this vast country.

Offshore Gambling Sites for Australians

The presence of offshore online gambling sites offers something of a loophole as far as gambling in Australia is concerned. Under the laws laid down by the interactive gambling act of 2001, all digital offshore casinos and sportsbooks are specifically prohibited.

There is no ambiguity in this respect and the legislation is quite clear. However, many offshore operators are in place and a number are happy to provide online sports betting services to players in Australia.

Anyone looking to sign up will be subject to the terms and conditions of the individual operator and they must have reached the minimum legal age to gamble as laid down by their own country. Beyond those very basic requirements, a host of sports betting companies that are based offshore will offer those gambling services to Australian customers.

Any transgression of the rules are the responsibility of the individual operator who must take great care when providing options for customers in Australia. The players themselves can choose their provider from the offshore gambling industry options and play with impunity as they are not considered liable for any issues with legality.

As a result of this loophole, many of the world’s top betting companies are now open to Australian customers. All of their favourite sports are covered and yes, that naturally includes cricket. You may even find brands with a .AU web address and that is a clear indication that they are open to Australian players and are likely to provide a service that meets their requirements.

Prohibition of In-Play Betting

In-play betting – staking on live sporting events after they have begun – is prohibited by the 2001 act. Under the terms and conditions of this legislation, in-play betting is considered to fall under the category of an interactive gambling service.

As such, live betting is considered to be an excluded wagering service as far as that interactive gambling act is concerned. In-play cannot be considered to be a game of chance: in fact, it requires more of an analytical brain to assess how a match is developing before making a bet.

Perhaps there is an element of spontaneity that the Australian government isn’t too happy about. Some live punters might react too quickly to a high set of live odds and this potential to be impulsive doesn’t necessarily sit well with the authorities.

Therefore, if you are in Australia and playing with a local sportsbook, you will not be able to find any in-play markets. Once again, however, there is an anomaly and it’s provided by those offshore sportsbooks.

Anyone in the gambling industry who is based offshore and is happy to offer online sports betting services to Australian customers can issue a set of live markets. There will usually be a separate section of the sportsbook to cover this and a whole host of sporting events will be included.

Even the shortest form of cricket takes a few hours to complete so customers can expect to see a host of options for T20, ODis, plus test and first class games.

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Conclusion

It’s something of a contrasting picture in Australia but the main thing to take away is that online sports betting is largely allowed across the state. This applies to betting in person – potentially at a racetrack – or online through one of the many licensed operators.

There are, however, some heavy restrictions and it’s also worth noting that it is illegal to advertise any form of gambling in Australia. You won’t see any TV gambling advertising here, or any of the types of shirt sponsorship that we see elsewhere.

State governing bodies oversee local issues such as licensing and they are there to inspect physical presences such as casinos and coin operated gaming machines.

While certain types of gambling are banned, Australians look to play via offshore sites which provide services such as in-play betting. It all adds up to a rather confusing landscape but pre-match sports betting is clearly and definitely allowed.