Are Online Casinos Legal in Australia?

Australians love casino games, and they love to gamble. Since the early 1970’s Australians have been flocking to land-based casinos, and the industry has steadily grown over the past few decades. Now over 80% of Australian adults gamble in some fashion, which is one of the highest rates in the world. This is not limited to casino gaming alone, but also includes sports booking, scratchies, and horse racing, as well.

Since 1994, when Microgaming introduced the world’s first online casino, Australians and people the world over have been taking to the Internet to enjoy the convenience that comes with being able to connect at any time and at any place where you have a secure Internet connection.

One country that has attempted to put the kibosh on Internet casinos is the United States, which limits access of Americans to online casinos and makes it nearly impossible for citizens of this country with supposed free speech devoid of censorship to withdraw winnings from online casinos. Many casinos do not even allow Americans to browse their websites at all, not even to play free games.

Australia is a bit more laid back about online gambling, but the country still maintains some restrictions. The simple answer to the question on whether it is illegal to gamble online in Australia is a resounding NO, at least not for the gambler.

If you want to frequent online casinos, spend money, acquire bonuses, and take a shot at winning huge, real money jackpots, it is within your rights to do so. However, when going online to gamble, or going anywhere land-based for that matter, you would do well to gamble responsibly. Australia also leads the world in total gambling losses per year and instances of compulsive gambling.

The Interactive Gambling Act

In 2001, Australia passed the Interactive Gambling Act to deal exclusively with online gaming. This act makes it illegal for online casinos, whether in Australia proper or in some other location, to offer business to Australian players. It is not, however, illegal for an Australian to register and play at an online casino, however.

The lines are grey and blurry as to what constitutes solicitation and provision under this law. What makes it even more difficult to determine is the fact of who can instituted a complaint. Anyone can register a formal complaint with the Australian Broadcasting Authority.

However, an online casino that allows Australian gamblers onto its site is not necessarily guilty of infringing upon the IGA. If the casino engaged in due diligence, i.e. posting that according to the IGA, Australians cannot gamble here, then it is not considered guilty of an offense.

One distinction made in the practice of law is between de jure and de facto law. De jure law refers to law as it is written, whereas de facto refers to how the law is actually enforced. Frequently in jurisprudence across the world, a law may state something as illegal but not enforce it in quite that way. Considering the number of online casinos that offer cash deposits and withdrawals in Australian dollars, it seems clear that the de facto practice of this law limits the amount of prosecution.

Accreditation, Security, and Jurisdiction

The legal status of a casino is an important subject when you choose to gamble, whether at an online casino or a land-based one. Lack of any legal regulation means a casino can rig games in whatever way it sees fit to do so. This is doubly so in the case of online casinos, where all the casino games are actually software programs that use random number generators.

For example, in order for land-based casinos (or players in real time, for that matter) to cheat at craps, they would have to use weighted dice. If anyone were to handle these dice, they would have a chance to determine that cheating is occurring. With software programs online, there are no dice to handle.

Legit casinos do no look to function this way, however. It’s not good business for them. These casinos would rather operate under some form of regulation which ensures the safety of their games. If a casino takes 75% of the money wagered through fraudulent means, and can only attract 1000 regular players per week spending $100 each, it only makes $75,000 for that week.

However if a casino abides by regulatory entities that restrict casino win percentages to 10%, it’s not unreasonable to surmise that that casino could attract 10x the number of people. Even if 10000 people spent only $100 a week at a casino that pays out at 90% (meaning 10% is the casino’s take), the casino still makes $100,000 in that week, $25,000 more than the cheating casino.

Consequently it’s in a legitimate online casino’s best interest to not cheat. The business model allows for much greater profits if many customers come to play and lose only a little, as opposed to bilking fewer customers for most of what they have.

Since online casinos don’t offer much in way of face to face communication, it is that much more difficult to get a sense if the people you are dealing with are on the level. Consequently, designers of casino software hire independent companies such as eCOGRA to test their software and accredit it as software that does not violate industry-wide regulations.

In addition to accreditation, casinos also know that customers are more likely to gamble at sites where their money is held securely. Consequently, casinos often use encryption software that makes certain that you are the only one able to access your bank roll.

Whenever you go to play casino games online, take a look at the type of software the casino uses, who has accredited it, and what types of security that casino offers for your real money account. One final important factor is to consider what jurisdiction a casino falls under. Typically jurisdiction applies to wherever the physical servers are for an online casino.

Whatever gambling regulations operate within a specific country also apply to any online casinos that operate under that country’s jurisdiction. Beware of online casinos who do not post their jurisdictional oversight.

Tips for Safe Gambling

Gambling can be an incredibly fun activity, but it can also turn into a nightmare. To stay on the sunnier side of gambling, you can follow these tips:

  • Play for fun and not for rent. Any money you lose can count as entertainment costs you can afford to lose.
  • Don’t chase losses.
  • Always keep a budget of both the money you spend gambling and the time you allot for this activity. Don’t diverge from either.
  • Never gamble when intoxicated or when angry or depressed. Impaired judgment can allow you to justify irresponsible behavior.
  • If at any point you feel your gambling has gotten out of control, please get help somewhere.