Australian online gambling laws

Australian Online Gambling Laws

Is It Legal?

It is not an offense to gamble online. That is a direct quote from the Australian Government’s Department of Communications and the Arts. Like all things, you should be careful doing it and this article will attempt to breakdown all of the laws and regulations that exist in online and offline gambling. The key thing to remember is in almost all cases, it is the responsibility of the company providing the gambling medium to do so legally. In other words, the government targets the company providing the game and not the people playing it. Because government restrictions are so tight on Australian companies who try to set up online gambling websites, offshore companies are really the only option available, but these are all perfectly legal for Australian citizens to use. However, restrictions placed by the Australian Government in 2017 have clamped down on these offshore companies.

Effects on Punters

There are many laws that govern Australian online gambling. Most of these are laid out in the Gambling Regulations Act of 2001. The key thing to know is that these laws have little to no bearing on individual gamblers. Rather, they focus on restrictions for bookmakers in order to control what they can and can’t do.

Politicians like Nick Xenophon push the agenda to tighten gambling laws and restrict the ever-fluctuating industry, but it’s worth noting that online gambling will, without question, remain legal in Australia for the foreseeable future and you should feel comfortable to do so responsibly as you please.

The Gambling Regulations Act of 2001 states in clause 15 that a person has committed an offense if they have set up an online gambling website as an Australian company or with an Australian link. This has now been amended under the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016. It is now illegal to provide Australian citizens with “interactive gambling services” unless you own a license in Australia – which no offshore gambling website does.

Sports Betting

Let’s start with the one of the most common form of online gambling – sports betting. You’re probably very familiar with sports betting and sports betting websites as it’s something we’re exposed to all of the time, whether in advertising, sports coverage or just through various betting websites.


Firstly, there is the traditional form of sports betting which is known as ‘offline’ sports betting. In Australia, this market is controlled by Tabcorp Holdings who have over 4000 venues around the country where people can legally place wagers on sports, racing and other miscellaneous markets at one of these venues. This is the stock standard form of sports betting and is pretty black and white in terms of legality. As long as you’re over 18 years of age and are not intoxicated, you are free to bet according to the Gambling Regulations Act of 2003. They have the right to refuse your bet if they believe you are not of sound mind and body.


Online sports betting has exploded in the last few years and gambling laws have struggled to keep up, which is why some people are a little hesitant to get involved. Tabcorp is the only Australian company to have a licence to provide sports betting, which is why companies like the Tom Waterhouse owned William Hill and the Irish owned Sportsbet are controlled offshore, but cater to Australian punters. There is a bit of grey area in terms of these internationally based companies existing in Australia, but there is nothing illegal about betting with companies like Sportsbet, William Hill or any other online bookmaker. People are turning to online gambling because it provides a speedy way of placing a bet and they can do so from the comfort of their own homes.

The government states that as they can’t regulate these online offshore-based betting companies, the onus is on you, the punter, to make sure you don’t have your money stolen by illegal fraudulent bookmaking sites. You can read more about this here.


Mobile sports betting is a newer phenomenon in the market and has been rather controversial due to how easy it makes placing bets. The worry is that people will spend more money than they can afford and not think through their decisions due to the unprecedented access. Despite all of this controversy, mobile betting remains perfectly legal and many bookmakers have apps set up for use.

When it comes to mobile sports betting, the Australian government recently placed restrictions on betting on live sports. In-play betting is the process of betting on a sporting event while the event is taking place and it is currently only legal in Australia over the phone. This has been illegal for Australian companies since 2001, but remained murky territory for internationally based companies up until 2016. Bookmakers attempted to get around this by adding a ‘click-to-call’ function to their mobile apps, which would allow punters to place bets in-play. However, the Australian government recently banned this too, saying it was against the ‘spirit of the law’. This was part of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016. Bookmakers fought against the changes for several months, but now must stop all click-to-call betting. If you have used click-to-call betting, don’t worry, you won’t be in any trouble.

‘Telephone betting’ itself is still allowed under clause four of the Gambling Regulations Act of 2001 and the government currently has, in their words, “no plans to ban it”. You just can’t click-to-call through mobile apps. If you want to call your local TAB to place a bet, you still can.

Slot Machine and Pokies Gambling


The Australian government puts a lot of restrictions on the building of casinos in Australia with only one existing in most states. The Victorian State Government reportedly considered a second casino based in Geelong in 2015, but there has been nothing official and no ground made since then.

The Casino Control Act of 2006 regulates the industry. It focuses on a number of elements including what games casinos can legally offer patrons, the process for receiving and applying for a casino license and the boundaries casinos can’t cross. Supplying the government with false information or data and statistics comes up regularly as one of the more serious regulations.

Pokie machines:

Focusing on the machines themselves, regulations exist to control what kinds of machines are allowed in clubs, pubs and casinos around the country. As it is Australia’s most popular form of gambling, it is interesting to note that each individual state has control over regulating their pokie machine. Recently, there has been a lot of debate in regards to the ethics of third party private companies profiting from pokie machines. The biggest of these being sporting teams in the AFL and NRL. However, it’s pretty black and white with slots machines, they are legal to use and will remain so.

Reforms were attempted last June to help minimize the addictiveness of poker machines, but those reforms didn’t make it through trial stages and only briefly applied in the ACT. An idea thrown around was a betting cap of $1 per game, which would greatly reduce the amount of money people could lose in the short term. That idea has not gained traction due to the cost of implementing such changes to pokie machines being estimated as over $1 billion dollars.


When it comes to online slots machines, Australia has very strict laws as to who can and can’t set up ‘real money’ pokie websites. Of all the forms of gambling, this is probably the one most people are unsure of when it comes to legality. The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 states that all forms of ‘real money’ online gambling are illegal excluding lotteries and sports betting. This includes all forms of pokie machines and slots machines. As of March 2017, online casino games are now banned in Australia under the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016. This act places a blanket ban on providing Australian citizens with interactive gambling services without an Australian license.

The reasoning for the ban in Australia is simply how addictive and easy it is for users to lose money. More than $1 billion was spent by Australian citizens in offshore poker machine websites. That number would probably increase significantly if Australian companies were allowed to offer the service.



In Australia, there are a few companies that control the lottery market. In Victoria, ACT, Tasmania, Queensland, New South Wales and the Northern Territory, Tatts Group control most of the lottery scene and you can pick up tickets from a wide variety of outlets. South Australia has its own state-funded lottery. Each individual state is responsible for governing and regulating their lotteries. You can also pick up “scratchies” which are a form of instant-win lottery where you scratch the card to see if you’ve won any money. Most lottery companies offer these, but they are only valid in the state purchased in. Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland also offer Keno, which is owned by Tabcorp and is another form of lottery.

Western Australia has been particularly tough on the industry and has the toughest gambling laws in the nation. Pokie Machines are not allowed in pubs and Keno also doesn’t exist in the state. If you live in Western Australia, only the Burswood Casino is licensed to provide gaming machines. These tough laws go all the way back to the 1974 Royal Commission into Gambling. As of June 2016, there are still no plans for the state to ease these restrictions.


Oz Lotteries has exclusive rights to distribute lottery tickets online in Australia. No other Australian company or website can legally sell lottery tickets online. They are Brisbane based, but operate in all states. They are owned by Jumbo Interactive Ltd who work with Tatts Group synergistically to provide online lottery tickets.


Raffles and auctions are still technically listed and regulated as a form of gambling in Australia, but due to the non-for-profit nature of charities hosting these, they are legal and fine in all cases. If a charity were to set up an online raffle, they would have to meet state regulations and register themselves with the state government.



Many Poker tournaments exist in Australia and it goes without saying that these are legal. Some of these competitions include the Asia Pacific Poker Tour, which is the country’s biggest Poker event. Internationally, you can watch the Word Series of Poker on ESPN as well as other tournaments. There is a lot of money in Poker, but unlike lottery games of chance, they require a lot of skill.


It is illegal for Australian companies to provide ‘real-money’ online Poker tournaments and, like the online casino/slots market, it is now illegal for offshore companies to provide Australian citizens with interactive ‘real-money’ Poker games as well. Unfortunately this means if you want to play real-money Poker in Australia, you’re going to need a deck of cards.

The Future of Online Gaming

Politicians are at the forefront of anti-gambling legislation and with the recent crackdown on online, interactive gambling, it would appear the best way to go about most forms of gambling is to do it in person. Sports betting remains very interactive, but other forms are now inaccessible to Australian citizens.

Gambling is likely to remain legal in some form here in Australia. However, be sure to contact your local government to find out what gambling laws and regulations exist in your specific region.