Like their former rulers in Britain, Aussies love to gamble. In fact, the country of over 22.5 million gamble at a rate higher than any other people in the world. A whopping 80% of all adults bet in some form, either at land-based casinos and poker rooms or online.
Sports betting, both offline and online, is legal and regulated in the country. There are several state-licensed bookmakers that operate online, but there is also a host of unlicensed operators.
Since Australians gamble at such a high rate, the country has had some issues with problem gambling, which has produced a love-hate relationship with the legislature. They love the tax revenue that casinos and sports betting bring, but are wary of the ill effects gambling has had on some citizens.
There many land-based casinos in the country that offer casino gaming, slots, and poker games, such as Texas Hold’em, but only some casino games are licensed for online gambling.
In 2001, the government passed the Interactive Gambling Act, which established a framework for licensing online gambling sites and offered a balance between full-scale legalization and prohibition in a country that has serious issues with problem gambling.
Online sports betting was fully legalized, along with lotteries, but poker and casino games were not. Also, while forms of sports betting were sanctioned, it’s an important caveat that live betting, or in-play betting, is not allowed on state-licensed sites. The Interactive Gambling Act states that all wagering must occur prior to the event’s start time, thus eliminating live-betting markets.
Australia’s government-licensed sportsbooks are some of the biggest in the world. They are home to Betfair, Sportingbet, Centrebet, and other top bookmakers. It’s funny to think of this scenario playing out in another country, such as the United States, which is extremely anti-sports betting. The Australians are the only country in the world to liberalize online sports betting markets but to outlaw operators from offering poker and casino games.
While the state only licenses real money sports betting, it’s vital to point out that there is no penalty for an Australian citizen who gambles online in any form, whether it be poker, casino or sports, even if he or she is playing at an unlicensed site. Instead, the illegal operators will be subject to fines or perhaps legal action from the Australian government.
Despite the laws against foreign unlicensed sites offering their services to citizens, Australians can easily gamble at any site of their choosing with little issue. Many online poker rooms and casinos accept Aussies, and so do a host of unlicensed sportsbooks, which offer every type of market, including live-betting options.
While many sites voluntarily left the market, Australia hasn’t gone after those violating the Interactive Gambling Act, like the United States has done with the UIGEA. Most Aussies are fully aware that they are playing at unlicensed sites but can easily deposit and collect their winnings.
Furthermore, many of these sites are well-respected companies in other parts of the world. They also offer bettors another crack at deposit bonuses and the ability to line shop more efficiently because they won’t be limited to just the state-licensed bookies.
Like the United Kingdom and Ireland, gambling winnings are tax-free in Australia, and there is no catch. The government does not view any form of gambling as a skill game, and, therefore, it is not subject to any taxation as earned income.
We have established that Aussies have plenty of real money options when it comes to where they want to bet. They have the state-run sites as well as a host of unlicensed bookmakers. Both options, provided a player chooses a reputable bookmaker, are excellent.
The Australian Football League (AFL), home of Aussie Rules Football, is a national obsession. Australians also have a professional soccer league in the A-League. They have leagues for both variations of Rugby, the National Rugby League (Rugby League) and the Australian Rugby Union. Like their British brothers, cricket has a wide following Down Under as well.
Of course, bookmakers don’t stop with domestic leagues. They offer odds on just about every sport on the planet. Yes, some will be focused on Australian sports, but most are licensed internationally in addition.
Bettors won’t be short on deposit and withdrawal options. Worldwide e-wallets Neteller and Skrill and even PayPal can be used for both deposits and payouts. These methods are instant, along with credit card and debit card deposits. Players also have a domestic payment processor in BPAY. They are the largest payment processor in the country and account for over $21 billion a month in transactions.
Withdrawals are processed quickly and through the above methods, normally in just a few days. There is almost never a fee for withdrawals for citizens residing in Australia. The country is highly competitive for operators, while also quite lucrative. Sites happily eat deposit and withdrawal costs to keep customers happy.
The government is in a tough situation, with the anti-gambling lobby pushing for restrictions on the expansion of gaming but with no real ability to stop citizens from gambling at unlicensed sites.
In recent years, there have been attempts to redefine and perhaps expand the law when it comes to online gambling, but this hasn’t come to fruition yet. The status quo may also remain the same, which is fine for Australian sports bettors.
Politicians and regulators certainly understand that they can’t stop their citizens from gambling online; it’s only a matter of time before they realize they might as well get their cut of the action.