Online Casino and Gambling in Australia
Australians have always enjoyed the thrills of gambling, whether that’s through sports events like horse racing or the Australian football league, playing poker, or spinning the reels on the pokies (the Australian term for slot machines).
Ever since the 1700s, Australians have been known to gamble from the basic picture card games to the modern-day technology of online casinos and live dealer gaming. The recent boom in online gaming over the last 20 years has seen a huge number of opportunities for Australians to gamble online via international casinos.
Locals could be sat at home in Sydney or Melbourne or on the move with their tablet or smartphone whilst playing their favourite online slots or table games via the Web. However, this situation, although useful for keen gamblers, created an uncontrolled online gaming environment that resulted in the Australian authorities stepping in. The government’s goal was to take back some control of the Australian gambling industry by making it illegal for businesses to accept deposits using AU$ at online casinos.
Since the Australian government passed these new laws a handful of online casinos ceased to accept Australian citizens. However, there are still some online casinos out there that will accept Australian players because there is no law that prevents Australians from playing at online casinos – the laws only apply to financial transactions and businesses, plus the government has to rely on the goodwill of places such as the EU to prevent their remote gambling licensors from accepting Australian casino players.
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Casinos That Accept Australian Players
Australian players already have access to an array of Curacao licensed and regulated casino sites. Australians tend to register for these casinos because the Curacao licensing authority does not ban its casinos from accepting Australian players and there is no formal agreement between the countries to enforce a ban.
On the other hand, the Malta Gaming Authority (MGA) which is governed under EU laws agreed that all casinos using its licensing will not be allowed to accept Australians. Also, the Gibraltar licensing authority has told its casinos to stop accepting Australian players. Due to this law, this limits the choice of online casinos available to Australian citizens to only those casinos that are licensed under the Curacao government – also known as the Antillephone N.V which was established in 1996 on the Dutch Caribbean territory island.
Not all Curacao based casinos accept Australian players, but there are still a few that do. These casinos still have an allure to Australian players because they offer excellent online gaming platforms with mobile and desktop games from top software developers. Microgaming, NetEnt, Play’n Go, Yggdrasil, Red Tiger Gaming, and Playtech are just a few developers that can be found at these casinos. Also, live dealer platforms from NetEnt, Evolution Gaming, and Ezugi are popular at these casinos.
Many of these casinos will not allow Australian players to play in AU$ so most Aussies tend to make deposits using cryptocurrencies which is why Australians can still find ways to gamble online. BTC, DOGE, BCH, LTC, and other cryptos are popular. Players can make their deposits and play games using these cryptos as long as they can find a wallet that will allow them to make deposits into online casino accounts. Most banks and e-wallets will not allow Australian players to make deposits using their e-wallet account, VISA or Mastercard.
If you are an Australian citizen, and you do want to gamble online, make sure that you read the casinos terms and conditions. Check the payments methods for viable withdrawal options. It is all very well making a deposit using a payment method that the Australian government cannot control, but then you will also want to make sure you can withdraw your winnings.
The 2001 Interactive Gambling Act
In 2001, the Australian Commonwealth Parliament created and passed the Interactive Gambling Act. The idea was to restrict Australian access to real-money casino games abroad and all of the advertising that came with it. They were looking to protect problem gamblers and gain some control over the free reign that the international casinos and illegal local casinos had when it came to online gambling.
The real issue that came out of the Interactive Gambling Act in 2001 was that the government were helpless in actually enforcing these laws. The attraction and power of the international casinos seemed too much for the Australian gambling community and players continued to sign up and play at these sites across the globe. If you read the law in full, the rules that were laid out didn’t stop Australian players from using these international casinos.
Casinos use all sorts of advertising tactics and through the new world of social media and online marketing, they were able to find countless ways to find new customers all across Australia. Simply put, the online casino industry was too powerful and building up too much momentum for the Australian government to stop it. More had to be done. They needed to protect their population from the pitfalls of gambling, but they were helpless in stopping international casinos from attracting Australian players.
Fast-forward to 2017 and the “Amended Interactive Gambling Act 2001” was finally brought into action. On September 13, 2017, the Australian authorities finally strengthened up their online gambling laws, with much stricter rules and a promise to crack down on illegal sites throughout Australia and abroad.
Essentially, the amendment stated that all online casino gaming, online pokie games, in-play sports betting, and any advertising that was linked to unauthorised gambling sites would be strictly prohibited. The laws also stated that all online poker and sports betting sites must operate with an Australian license approved by the overall governing body within the Australian Commonwealth Parliament.
The authorities were determined to manage this law with more power and strength this time around. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) sent out with its specialist team to enforce the laws and the results that came back were positive. The ACMA investigated a total of 62 potential offenders, 38 of those sites were found to be breaching the new gambling laws and consequently withdrew their operations in Australia.
It also resulted in 23 out of 34 international online gambling sites agreeing to the new laws. It’s fair to say that the new amendment bill was a huge success and flushed out many of the illegal sites targeting Australian players, as well as creating a safer gambling environment for everyone.
One of the biggest positives from the new law was the success of getting the message across to the big players in the casino industry around Europe and further afield in the US. Various jurisdictions were notified to enforce stricter rules around gambling activity from Australian-based players. The UK, Gibraltar, Malta, Alderney, US, and Curacao authorities were all included, as well as various payment companies and software providers.
All of whom were told to deal with these Australian players and ban them from using their services. Online gambling activity between Australians and international casinos has consequently fallen by 50%. As a result, the new laws have made a significant difference and the overall online gambling environment is now a lot more controlled, through the help of stricter regulations and watchdog teams keeping a closer eye on suspicious behaviour from unapproved gambling businesses.
Current Day Gambling Situation
The upshot of the amended law doesn’t mean that Australians can’t play at international online casinos. The new laws are targeting the game providers and players will not be held responsible for any actions, they simply play at these sites at their own risk.
The majority of the big-name casinos and software providers have stopped offering Australian dollars and they are actively trying to stop Australian players from signing up. It’s the casinos licensed in the lesser-known jurisdictions that players and the Australian government should be wary of. These licenses come with relaxed guidelines and rules, not to mention that they are a lot cheaper to set up as well, so businesses who are less inclined to stick to the appropriate rules are able to get the necessary licenses to offer gambling services. It’s these casinos that will continue to target the Australian players regardless of the current laws.
The current situation is that the Australian Commonwealth Parliament need to think about revising the laws again. If they want to completely regulate the industry and protect their people within the boundaries of Australia, stricter laws will need to be put in place to control the actions of the player as well, which is a lot easier said than done. It’s a step in the right direction for Australia though, the initial 2001 Interactive Gambling Act came with many loopholes. So many in fact that it was almost pointless having the Interactive Gambling Act in the first place. Those loopholes have been tied up though, through the amendments made in 2017, but the battle continues and more still needs to be done.