Legal differences between online horse, sports and casino betting in Australia

| July 23, 2019
Many forms of gambling are available in Australia.
Many forms of gambling are available in Australia.

Australia is a liberal country and almost all forms of gambling are available and for the most part, legal.

Of course, there are a number of restrictions on what an operator can offer, with laws enacted by the government to prevent the growing addiction to gambling; but because the law cannot tell an adult how to spend his or her money, most gambling options are allowed in the country. 

That said, the law does regulate the type of games an operator can offer bettors. For example, while punters can play games like pokies on foreign websites; Australian betting companies cannot offer these games. 

In this article, we will be looking at if and how government regulations affect horse betting online and in-house.

History of Gambling in Australia

Australia is one country with a very long history of gambling. History has it that the first gamblers came in form of settlers towards the end of the 18th century. Other reports suggest that the Aborigines may have picked up gambling from traders passing through the region as early as the 1700s. Whatever the case, official records show that the first gambling event took place sometime in 1810, when a horse racing event was held in Hyde Park. 

Seventy years later, in 1880, the first lottery was organized, while slot machines, which later went on to include pokies, arrived in the 1950s.

What the law says

Way back in 2001, Australia addressed the legality of online gambling in the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) 2001. 

The law was enacted to protect the general public from the negative effects of online gambling. 

Under this law, which was particularly targeted at online gambling operators and not Australian citizens, it is illegal to:

  • Offer banned interactive gambling products to anyone living in Australia
  • Offer unlicensed online gaming products to anyone living in Australia
  • Offer Australian online gaming products to customers outside Australia

The IGA prohibits most online gambling games ranging from the wildly popular pokies to blackjack, roulette and poker. 

However, it does not ban auto racing and a number of sports betting options, including horse racing, as long as it is not provided to customers, in-game. 

Is Gambling Legal in Australia?

The IGA was revisited in 2011 but we saw few changes. It was in 2016 and 2017 that new laws were passed in the country that made online gambling a little bit difficult. First in were restrictions on foreign operators which meant that they could no longer accept players from Australia, and any existing account had to be close down. 

The new laws also stipulated that:

  • Sports bettors can register with an online self-exclusion operator for a period of their choosing, and this can be done only on a single site.
  • Online bookmakers are required to allow bettors to voluntarily set betting limits in order to avoid financial loss as a result of gambling.
  • Online operators are no longer allowed to offer free bets or lines of credit to Australian customers. 

The complete additions to the IGA cannot be covered in this article, but you can read up  the concise summary of the current legislation

That said, the good news is that these laws are targeted not at individual players but at gambling operators, so if any of these laws are broken, the operator is the one that will be held accountable. 

Online sports and betting on Horse racing events in Australia

If betting on online sporting events like horse racing is your thing, you will be pleased to know that the IGA left this regulation of this aspect of gambling to the individual states. The only exception is that live-in-play betting is generally forbidden.

What this means essentially is that betting on horse sporting events is largely legal all over Australia, as there are no restrictions except for live-in-play. So, you can bet on horse racing events online on Australia websites without fear of breaking or bending the law. But like everything else, you need to  find a secure horse betting site where your financial and personal details will be kept safe

Wrapping up

There are indications that the government may revisit the IGA laws with the intention of loosening certain restrictions and making live betting and more casino games available to Australian customers. But this will not happen overnight as it is usually a slow process and may take years to see the light of day. 

Category: Betting

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