Online gambling is a firm favourite with lovers of a wide variety of casino games in Australia.
While online gambling is a relatively new pastime for Australian gamblers, betting is deeply rooted in Australian culture. The first legal poker machines (where the local slot term "pokie" comes from) were only introduced in clubs and bar in 1956 while punters have been cosying up to Lady Luck at the race tracks as far back as 1881!
Far from its humble days of placing a few bets at the track or spending an evening at your local bar playing your lucky pokie, today gambling has blossomed into a "national sport" worth $22.7 billion according to the 'Australian Gambling Statistics, 1989–90 to 2014–15' - and it is worth noting that this reported figure excludes 'interactive' (aka online) gambling.
It is reported that up to 80% of Australian adults participate in some form of gambling or betting.
Be it local casino wagering, pokies down at the pub, putting some money on the ponies or logging into their favourite online casino, someone is always betting somewhere in Australia!
Can you legally gamble online?
Yes, you can! Australians can legally play their favourite online casino games as there is not a single law, specific or implied, which stops you from going to your favourite website and placing bets online.
The Commonwealth Governments Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) 2001 is very clear in its intent to only "prohibit Australian companies from offering online gaming services" to Australian residents. It is important to keep in mind that in Australia the Commonwealth Law is the dominant law, this means that any state level acts are overridden by the Commonwealth proclamations making it easy to track your rights and responsibilities in terms of local gambling legislation.
Residents of Australia have absolutely no legal requirement to adhere to any ruling in the IGA as it is specifically aimed at the providers of online gambling and betting services, and not those partaking in the services themselves.
Australian Gambling Tax Laws
If you’re one of the lucky gamblers who has hit that ever elusive jackpot and finally had all your financial dreams come true, or even if you just hit a quick pick at the local lotto, you will be glad to hear that Australia is one of those rare gems which has zero taxation on gambling winnings.
As shown with the IGA, the Australian government recognises that the entity making the most money out of our love for gambling is the casino operator – therefore the onus is on them to pay all licences, fees, and required taxes on the revenue they generate from Australian gamblers.
While the model for calculating these taxes and fees differs from state to state, they all agree on one thing – the casino pays, you keep your winnings tax free!
Legal Gambling Age
Australian law prohibits anyone under the age of 18 years old from taking part in any betting or gambling activities - be it online or at a land-based casino or betting shop. This also extends to free or fun play casino games where the site of play also offers real money gambling.
Even though they are not specifically bound by Australian law, all reputable online casinos adhere to this ruling as a good business practice.
Following in the very profitable footsteps of regions to regulate and legislate online gambling services such the United Kingdom, it is true that Australia is looking at updating its own acts in this regard.
This is a welcome move by the Australian government as it will mean that local Australian casinos and betting companies will finally be able to offer their services to the people they are best positioned to serve.
It will mean an increase in above the line (ATL) advertising spend in Australia such as radio, television, and even print advertising. This will all be in addition to the massive boost to the Australian economy through licencing fees and revenue taxation.
However, as before, all legislation will be aimed at ensuring that the government receives what it deems to be its fair-share in terms of licences and taxes. None of the amendments will in any way impact your ability to gamble freely online or result in any taxes on your winnings.
It also has the added benefit of allowing the government to establish watch groups to ensure you are treated fairly at all times, and that you receive the full value of all jackpots and winnings in a timeous manner.
At the present time there is no Australian governmental body with any power over international online casino groups to assist players with queries relating to online gambling sites.
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