Australians have always been known around the world as a country that walks to the beat of its own drum. Risk-takers by nature, there is a long history of gambling in the country. However, when it comes to online gambling, Australia has taken a far more conservative approach than anyone could have imagined. What was a tight rein on the online casino industry has only gotten tighter in the last few years, so let’s focus this page on the regulations in that country, and how it affects players who are looking to play online pokies, poker, and other casino games.
Gambling regulations in Australia
With the country’s early ties to the United Kingdom, it is not shocking to find that gambling is as much a part of the daily culture in Australia as anything else. Sports betting has always been a very popular pastime, and the Totalisator Agency Board (TAB) has been responsible for operating hundreds of regulated sports betting shops around the country. While the federal government has a say in the legislation of land-based gambling in Australia, much of the management of the regulations and operations is farmed out to each individual state.
When it came time to do something about online gambling, rather than find a way to legitimize and regulate the industry, the Australian government went the exact opposite direction, and in 2001 introduced the Interactive Gambling Act. The Act made it totally legal for sites to operate from Australia if they were accepting wagers from outside the country, but these operations could not accept wagers from locals.
The whole theory behind this seemed flawed from the start. First off, the sites that were already in operation were not going to open offices in Australia just for the sake of it. This is especially true in the cases of sites that were operating in many tax-friendlier jurisdictions. To make matters worse, the legislation did nothing to stop Australians from playing at offshore sites, so the idea of protecting them from scam operations was also a failure. Finally, by having no penalties in place for sites who continued to accept Australian real-money players, there was no reason for sites to pull out of the market.
This frustrating law clearly had many holes in it, and while it took some time for the government to address them, they started to close loopholes in the Act. It did take an entire decade for the Interactive Gambling Act to be overhauled, and in 2011 a comprehensive review of the laws resulted in a series of recommended changes. Still, nothing was done with that document until 2016.
The first wave of these changes included the elimination of free bet promotions at online sportsbooks and a series of self-exclusion provisions that were not required by law before. This was a drop in the bucket, however, with the major changes soon to follow. The Interactive Gambling Bill of 2016 was not passed until the middle of 2017, but it changed the landscape of the Australian gambling industry overnight.
As a result of the new legislation, all online gambling ads were made illegal, as well as banning all forms of online gambling except for sports betting. This was a major blow to players and operators alike, and everyone waited to see who would make the first move. Many large online poker sites decided to pull out of the Australian market, followed by some of the biggest names in the online casino and pokies world.
Today, there are still sites that are based offshore that will accept Australian players, but that number is dwindling, and if the government decides to implement restrictions at the ISP level, it could eliminate all of them.
Online Casino Software Available to Australians
With all the changes in regulations over the last two years, the number of software companies still accepting licensees taking Australian players is very small. The good news for fans of online pokies is that you can still find some good quality games, but nothing near the number of titles that are provided by some of the leading developers. Australian online gamblers will find the majority of games coming from software companies like:
- Real Time Gaming
- Rival Gaming
Best Online Casinos for Australian players
There are still a decent number of online casinos and sportsbooks that are willing to take real-money bets from Australian players. The toughest part for players is getting money to and from sites – using e-wallets and cryptocurrency is the path of least resistance here, but every site has their own set of payment methods they accept.
From a quality standpoint, even though some of the leading software isn’t available to Australian players, the fact remains that you still have access to hundreds of excellent online pokies titles as well as Table Games, video poker and sports betting if you want to play those games as well. We have provided you with a list below of some of the top-rated Australian-friendly sites that our reviewers have tried an recommend.