The Internet allows people from any part of the world to register at any web site. Therefore when the first online casinos were launched around 1995, players from Australia also signed up. This was the beginning of online gambling in Australia. As traffic from Australia grew, online casino operators launched dedicated sites for Australian players. These permitted wagering in Australian dollars, special promotions for Australian players and free local customer support round the clock. Because of Australian laws, these operators were licensed in other reputed online gambling jurisdictions like Malta and Gibraltar. Today Australians can gamble from their mobile phones and tablets as well.
The defining legislation for online gambling in Australia is the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act (IGA). It was passed by the Parliament in June 2001 and it received assent in July 2001. It superseded the 2000 Interactive Gambling Moratorium Act. Under the IGA it is an offense for Australian operators to provide online gambling services to Australian residents. Operators can offer online gambling services to players from other countries, provided the countries are not on a designated list. Online sports betting, with the exception of in-play betting, is not considered as online gambling under current Australian law. There are many state government licensed sports betting operators.
The good news for Australian players is that it is not an offence for them to play poker online or to engage in online casino wagering. Therefore wagering at online casinos registered and regulated outside Australia is possible under Australian law. There is no way that you can be prosecuted for this activity. Another piece of favourable information that you should know is that income from gambling is not taxable in Australia. Australian players who wager at offshore online casinos do face one minor disadvantage. If a dispute arises between them and the online casino, they have no recourse under national law and cannot demand assistance from Australian gambling authorities. They would have to utilise the legal system of the licensing jurisdiction or involve dispute resolution service providers. However, if you stick with the offshore online casinos recommended by us, such a situation is unlikely to arise.
The status quo is likely to prevail in the foreseeable future as far as online gambling law in Australia is concerned. The issue has not been a high priority one for successive governments. In October 2009, the Productivity Commission, an independent advisory body on gaming policy of the Australian government, recommended changes to the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act. It mooted the idea of allowing operators to offer online poker and casino products to Australian residents, with a provision of a strict regulatory regime to ensure consumer protection.
This generated considerable hope among Australian online players. But in March 2013, the government announced that it will not be expanding online gambling. It even shot down the proposal of trial online poker tournaments. The reason given was that harm minimisation systems have to be first chalked out and put in place. One of the steps taken was the introduction of pre-commitment technology. Smart cards had to be used to play land based pokies. The cards would prevent excluded players, including those who had used up their own pre-set limits, from playing.
The current government of the Liberal Party opposed such restriction again giving hope to Australian online players of a more liberal approach. But again the hopes were belied, at least temporarily. In 2014 the government constituted a working group to study online gambling. This group is likely to submit its recommendations later this year. Right now Australian players are getting to wager on safe and regulated online gambling sites and are content.