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Australian Online Casinos – The Legal Landscape

Australian Online Casinos

Online casinos are quite popular in Australia and their popularity is rising exponentially every day. Whether you want to simply learn about them or are looking to actively enjoy some real money online casinos in Australia, we have just the article for you. Before you start playing your favourite games with Licensed Australian Online Casinos, you need to understand the industry’s regulations. Learning about the Interactive Gambling Act and other Australian gambling regulations will positively impact your experience. Even if you just want to play online pokies, knowing about the legal framework will help you out.

Online Casinos In Australia: Read Before You Start Playing

While online casinos have risen in popularity in recent years, gambling is not new to the land down under. Lotteries and totalizators were operated by the Government at one point of time. Slowly, all the states and territories of the country have switched over to privatizing all gambling operators.

Most of Australia’s totalizator operations are governed by a lot of state and territory legislative and contractual arrangements. Northern Territory, Queensland and New South Wales (NSW) also issue multiple licenses for land based casinos in some jurisdictions. All licensed clubs and hotels also have the option to run gaming machines across Australia with the notable exception being Western Australia where only the Perth Casino is allowed to run such gaming machines.

All of Australia’s top gambling companies need a state or territory government-provided license to operate.

The Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) in 2001

The main law that governs online casinos in Australia is the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) in 2001. This law prohibits online casinos from offering real money gambling options for Australians. 

The Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) in 2001 listed certain services that were illegal for gambling providers to offer Australian residents. These included things like live sports betting, lottery outcome bets and online casinos. As per the Interactive Gambling Act, it is also illegal for gambling service providers to advertise any of the services in the banned list. Offering credits for online betting is also banned. 

The Interactive Gambling Act also allows people to file a complaint in case they think someone has violated any terms of the act.

What were the changes to the Interactive Gambling Act in 2017?

After a massive influx of offshore gambling service providers, the Interactive Gambling Act was modified in 2017 to limit their reach. With the changes, a lot of the operators were banned from offering any credit to Australians. The people behind companies found in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act could be sent to the Australian Border Force. 

The changes made to the Interactive Gambling Act in 2017 led to the departure of more than 180 online gambling service providers from Australia. This directly resulted in a severe drop in the amount of money Australians lost on such platforms. The act also carried some guidelines for Australia’s internet service providers to enforce the rules.

What were the changes to the Interactive Gambling Act in 2019?

The 2019 amendment of the Interactive Gambling Act saw the introduction of BetStop or the National Self-Exclusion Register. This allowed Australians to get out of all of Australia’s online and phone gambling services in one fell swoop. All of these gambling service providers will be forced to close your account and you won’t be able to selectively close your account either.

How do licensed and unlicensed online casinos differ in Australia?

A licensed online casino in Australia takes responsible gambling and user protection very seriously. It will implement measures to ensure that the users aren’t unfairly ripped off. One such tool is a certified random number generator (RNG) which ensures that the outcomes of the casino games are not manipulated in any way by the casinos.

The responsible gaming tools used by licensed casinos help prevent players from getting badly addicted to gambling as well. Things such as deposit limits, self-exclusion options, and time-out periods go a long way in helping people gamble responsibly and not spend all of their time and money on the gambling platform.

As far as fairness and integrity of the gambling industry are concerned, the licensing authorities play a critical role. These authorities give online casinos the legal permit to operate legally. Australia doesn’t have its very own national licensing authority for these casinos so they are usually issued licenses by international authorities based out of Malta, Gibraltar, or the Isle of Man.

A licensed casino abides by a certain set of strict standards and maintains transparency, financial stability, and fair gaming practices. A license is only granted after the online casino operators undergo a background check, scrutiny of financial operations to protect players’ interests, and an analysis of the randomness of their number generators. A licensed casino can be trusted by all gambling lovers in Australia.

How do operators acquire their licenses?

To obtain gaming licenses in Australia the gaming operator is required to submit an application. The necessary documents include:

  • The identity document of the founder of the company.
  • Documents that prove the absence of criminal records of the executives.
  • Reports demonstrating the stable financial situation of the business owner.
  • Certificates of conformity of future technical installations and casino premises to current standards.
  • The receipt of tax payment.

This is a general list of documents required for registration of a license in any of the regions of Australia. There are also specific requirements in certain jurisdictions of the country for applying for gaming licenses.

What are the different gambling regulators across Australia?

Gambling legislation

Despite the stability of development and popularity of the gaming industry, the country’s gaming legislation is quite complicated. This is due to the political structure of Australia. As a result, the government consists of federal authorities and administrations in the states.

Among the powers of the federal government is the partial regulation of the gaming industry. At the same time, each state has its own laws governing the gambling system. As a result, the provisions of the laws can vary significantly.

In New South Wales, the local gaming law regulates the organization of gaming in land-based and online casinos in very general terms. In Victoria, by contrast, the particulars of these activities are detailed as precisely as possible. In particular, certain regulations define the organization system of physical casinos, and Internet portals and detail the requirements for each type of game. 

State laws classify gambling into specific categories, which may vary in some states. In general, gambling legislation highlights different types of casino games such as roulette, card games, poker, slot machines, lotteries, Keno, sports betting and racing.

Each state and territory of Australia has a department responsible for regulating the gaming sector. Let’s take a look at them:

  • In the Capital Territory, it is the Gambling and Racing Commission (ACT).
  • In New South Wales, it is the Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing.
  • In Victoria, it is the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation.
  • In Queensland, it is the Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation.
  • In the Northern Territory, it is the Northern Territory Director-General of Licensing.
  • In South Australia, it is the Independent Gambling Authority.
  • In Western Australia, it is the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor.
  • In Tasmania, it is the Tasmanian Gaming Commission.

However, all of these gaming regulators perform similar functions and responsibilities. They are involved in issuing licenses, supervising casino operations, and complying with legal requirements operating in a particular state.

Gaming taxes in Australia

  • The gaming tax system is also different in each state of Australia. The main taxes are:
  • Tax on sales or net income.
  • Tax on sports betting.
  • License fees.
  • Refund of player losses.

Rates are determined by the laws of each state. The tax system is constantly changing and updating. Typically, contribution rates are tightened and increased.

Any tax-related requirements refer exclusively to the owners of the gaming business. Players’ winnings are not subject to tax. In Australia, online gambling is considered a diversion and not a professional lucrative activity.

Offshore Casinos

Offshore online casinos took advantage of their geographical location to circumvent Australian gambling rules and provide gambling services to Australians. In a widely publicized 2019 dispute, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) had talked about shutting down all offshore casino websites in Australia. The plan met with heavy criticism from industry experts who said that shutting all of the offshore casinos down at once would be unfair to all Australians who were using them for entertainment. However, they did advocate for more stringent regulation of the offshore online casinos. 

The future of online casinos in Australia

As discussed earlier, the regulations regarding online casinos in Australia keep evolving. There were key changes made to the Interactive Gambling Act in 2017 and 2019. These amendments went a long way in weeding off a lot of illegal operators and making online casinos safer for Australians.

If past actions are anything to go by, Australian authorities will continue to evolve their existing set of online casino regulations. Offshore casinos might have to meet more stringent conditions to retain their licenses and the penalties can be increased exponentially. The increased advent of cryptocurrency will also affect the regulations going forward. As the public perception of cryptocurrency changes, lawmakers will have to adjust the regulations accordingly.

Conclusion

Australian online casino regulation can’t run without efficient licensing authorities, a robust player verification process and a user base that is always up to date with regulatory changes. These will go a long way in making online gambling safer. If people want to enjoy real money gambling with peace and safety, knowing about the Australian online casino regulations is very important. Always play with reputed online casinos that practice responsible gaming and player protection. Stay safe and bet responsibly.

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