There has been a lot said recently about whether having online betting is legal for Australian residents, with some parties stating that it was totally illegal to bet online if you are an Australian resident. We wanted to clear a few things up so those interested in placing an online bet understood on what, when and where they were allowed to bet.
According to a recent review of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (otherwise known as the IGA 2001) it is legal for Australians to bet online. The restrictions placed upon online betting are related to the service providers and their activities, not the bettors. Here is a brief rundown of what the act states with relation to betting with online providers.
- You can bet with Australian betting service providers on sports, racing and other events if you are required to provide a certain level of skill and the result of the event will not be determined by chance. This is an indication that placing a bet on horse racing, sports and other events is permitted, whereas betting on games of chance such as poker, casino games and online pokies is not permitted to be offered to you by Australian betting services providers (more details below).
- You can place a bet on any site, on any event or game of chance, outside of Australian territory without you contravening any Australian laws. However, you may find the service provider located outside Australian territory denies you a player account. The Australian government has requested offshore agencies not to accept Australian residents as players. The most popular reason given for this action is to ensure that online betting does not cause social issues such as problem gambling. Others believe it relates to the amount of Australian currency which leaves the country which is lost to Australia and the foreign companies do not pay tax within Australia. See point regarding lotteries below.
- Australian gambling service providers must not offer you games of chance such as casino games, poker, online pokies or other games where you do not use skill to place your bet. This has raised concerns for those that play poker as it is not a game of chance, but requires a measure of skill. The current Australian legislation forces those Australians who do play poker online to place their bets with offshore companies, on some occasions exposing them to fraud and loss of funds. The law also denies legitimate Australian companies from competing in an International market that is flourishing and is accepted in many other countries. There have been suggestions of a pilot poker program located within Australia in the future but at this time no more information is available.
- Websites operators and owners must not advertise games of chance on their sites if the site specifically targets an Australian audience. This is a very grey legal area because no sites are aimed specifically at an Australian audience unless search engines advertising or press advertising campaigns have been established that are aimed at Australians. In the case of most online advertising agencies it is not acceptable to promote games of chance and many other forms of online gambling.
- Australian lotteries are exempt from the restrictions of the IGA 2001 even though they would be considered a game of chance. You may buy lottery tickets and lotto tickets online from registered lottery and lotto agencies.
- No LIVE or MICRO BETTING is to be provided by Australian online betting agencies. Australian service providers may only accept a bet on a current, live event on the telephone. This restriction was imposed in a recent review of the IGA 2001 in response to alleged 'fixing' of sporting events. Micro betting is placing bets on small events such as if a train will be late, if it will rain in the next half hour, will the price of petrol go up by 5 o'clock this afternoon, etc. This brings to mind that saying 'Australian's are such avid gamblers that they would bet on two flies crawling up a wall'. That would be micro betting and all such betting may not be offered by Australian online betting agencies.
The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (PDF) has been reviewed on several occasions and as stated above it is aimed at the service providers, not the bettors. As an Australian resident you may place a bet or wager on any site and on any event or game without fear of breaking any Australian laws. You will however find that some betting service providers will not accept you as a customer because you are an Australian resident.
Also keep in mind that betting offshore can be risky. Offshore companies are not answerable to the Australian authorities and you may put your funds and your personal details at risk if you deposit with an unknown or dishonest service. Be wary and sensible with whom you provide your personal details and where you place your bets.
In the future we envisage that there will be changes to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (as amended) to allow the inclusion of online poker. At this stage no news has been released. We will announce and changes in the current legislation as they come to us.
If you have any questions please contact us,