In June 2001 the Australian government passed the IGA (Interactive Gambling Act) saying that it was important to help protect Aussie citizens from the damaging effects of gambling.
The most important thing for you, the potential gambler, to know is that the law targets the providers of inactive gaming (so all the operators who own the sites) so basically the law states that although it is an offence for the operator to provide the service to someone who physically resides in Australia, it’s not an offence for the individual punter to get online and enjoy casino and poker.
There is another leniency in the law meaning that sports betting online through the likes of Betfair is completely legal in Australia – as recently as 2008 Betfair won the right to allow Western Australians to use their site, overturning the state ruling and making it the last state to fall under Betfair control! So overall it makes for a much happier picture than the legal situation in the USA!
The reality is that although many online casinos and poker sites won’t actively target Australian player by making Aussie $ software or putting the flag all over a .com.au site, they will happily take Aussie players without any trouble at all.
For those that are interested I’ll let you know a few ins and outs other than the items listed above that where covered in the 2001 IGA.
• IGA did prohibit online wagers once a sporting event was underway – so ‘in-play’ betting was illegal. Once the ball was kicked, or the horses were off and running betting was a no no…
• Online lotteries were fine – the IGA had no issue expect with ‘instant’ lottery type games such as scratch cards.
• Offline services such as pub, casino etc (even if a linked jackpot was real time) were all still fine under IGA
• Advertising of an interactive gaming service (like a poker or casino room) was an offence and any operator doing it would be punished. You’ll notice that Casino and Poker rooms started advertising .net (play for fun) sites and also sponsoring grass roots pub poker events.
• The IGA will come under constant review and will undoubtedly change many times in the coming years simply due to the changing nature of the gambling industry.
In conclusion, although the law-makers will probably hate me for saying it, Aussie’s are in a pretty safe boat when it comes to gambling at an online casino. The letter of the law may say it’s illegal to provide the service to Aussies, but in reality individuals cannot be punished and the gaming companies, whilst not being too blatant about pushing it in our faces are taking hundreds of thousands of Australian wagers every day.