Gambling laws are never straightforward, and online gambling laws are even more confusing. That is just as much the case here in Australia, as it is in the United States, where gambling laws are notoriously complicated.
Is Online Gambling Legal in Australia?
The good news is that yes, online gambling is legal here. However, it’s not quite that simple. You see, it is not strictly legal for an online gambling website to operate from within Australia and to offer its services to Australian players (although it can offer services to residents from outside of the country). The advertising of online gambling services is also strictly prohibited in Australia.
Also, the laws differ depending on the form of gambling. For instance, sports betting tends to be a little more restricted, even though the world’s largest betting exchange, BetFair, allows Australian players.
Some restrictions apply to online pokies as well, which is odd when you consider how widely available actual pokies are in this country. However, as alluded to above, if those pokies are offered by a company that is based overseas, then there are no such restrictions.
All of these laws, and others, are described in the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, which is the law that controls online gambling in Australia.
The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001
As its name suggests, this law cam into effect in 2001. Prior to this it had been legal to operate an online casino within Australia, and the purpose of this law was to put a stop to that and to protect current and future generations from the “harmful effects of online gambling”.
In Australia, problem gambling affects a larger percentage of the population than anywhere else, which undoubtedly has something to do with our obsession for pokies, the fact that gambling is a way of life here and that we gamble more money per capita than anywhere else.
This law states that anyone caught advertising gambling services can be fined as much as $1 million a day, and as well as online pokies, this law also covers everything from roulette, blackjack and other table games, to sports betting, poker and bingo. There seem to be more relaxed laws concerning skill-based games, but if poker can fall foul of this law, then other skill-based games may do so as well.
How This Law Effects Players
While online casinos can be punished heavily for breaking the laws described in the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, the same does not apply to individual players. In fact, few, if any, of the laws in this code relate to players.
You are not putting yourself at risk by playing your favorite pokies online, even if you are playing on a casino that is breaking the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. Simply put, they have no interest in chasing the little man and getting a few cents out of them when they can slap hefty fines on rich companies.
As is usually the case, there are some loopholes that have allowed some companies to basically get away with breaking this law. For instance, SportsBet is based in Australia and offers sports betting to Australians, which would usually mean they are breaking the law. However, because they are connected to a land-based betting business, and because they do not offer any Live-Betting facilities (and therefore nothing “Interactive”) they can get away with it.
The same goes for other sports betting companies and lottery providers, including a major lottery site that is allowed to sell tickets online, but is not able to offer instant-win scratch cards, which have become a mainstay on lottery sites outside of Australia and tend to generate just as much money for the site as the lottery tickets do.
To get around these laws, Aussie-based sites have to exclude certain games, and as these games fall under the category of “interactive”, it covers a wide range.
Play Your Favorite Pokies Online
Because of this, the best way to play your favorite games is to simply sign-up to a casino that is based outside of Australia, such as Spin Palace. This is one of the most popular online casinos in Australia, even though it is owned by the European based BetWay brand and is regulated in Malta. Spin Palace attracts a lot of Australian players because it offers hundreds of pokies and other interactive games, including scratch cards and live dealer games, which just aren’t available on Australian-based sites.
Spin Palace also offers some impressive bonuses, including a sign-up bonus that drops up to $1,000 and some free spins in your account, and a loyalty scheme that rewards you every time you play. This scheme pays out regardless of how much you gamble and how frequently you gamble, but the more you bet, the higher in the loyalty scheme you will advance and the more prizes you will unlock.