Australians are known for their love of gambling. To say that the country is one of the biggest gambling markets in the world would not be an exaggeration. Slot machines, sportsbooks, and lotteries are widely available across the country.
Australian gambling market – a snapshot
An estimated 80% of all Australian adults engage in some form of gambling activity at least occasionally. That is nearly 20 million people. Of these, around 6.8 million are regular gamblers.
Annually they spent more than 200 billion dollars on gambling, according to the latest Government figures (2017). That means an average per capita spend of $11,000 per person when you take into account all Australians above the age of 18! That is one of the highest in the world.
And where do Australians spend all this money? Mainly on the following gambling avenues:
- Gaming (casinos & machines) – over $170 billion
- Racing – around $23 billion
- Sports betting – $10 billion
There are 13 full-size casinos in the country, spread across all eight states. But they do not account for the most revenue. That honour goes to gaming machines or “pokies” as the Australians call them. With over 200,000 of these in the country, you can find them almost everywhere!
Here is a quick look at some other common gambling establishments you will find in Australia, with their estimated numbers:
- Pubs/hotels/clubs with pokies – 6800+
- Lottery outlets – 4700
- Horse racing retail bet outlets – 2800+
- Keno outlets – 3600+
Australian gambling authorities and regulators
In the UK, which is yet another legal gambling market, the industry is mainly regulated by the Gambling Commission, under the UK Gambling Act of 2005 and its amendments.
Things are a little bit more complicated in Australia, with different levels of government strongly involved. At the top is the Central Government, which creates the basic legal framework for gambling in Australia.
Their main law related to gambling in Australia is the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, and its major amendments (2017). Under this law, state and territorial governments and departments handle various issues like licensing.
It goes without saying that most forms of gambling are legal in Australia. In fact, it has one of the strictest, most regulated gambling markets in the world.
Casinos in Australia (land-based)
All Australian land-based casinos are regulated by the local governments of states in which they are located. Casino gambling is fully legal in all states and territories, according to the Casino Control Act of 2006.
Australian casinos offer games like video poker machines, slots, tables for games like blackjack, poker, roulette, baccarat, and more. These are some of the biggest and most famous Australian casinos:
- The Star Casino in Sydney
- Casino Canberra
- Crown Casino in Melbourne
- Treasury Casino & Hotel in Brisbane
- Jupiter’s Hotel & Casino in Queensland
All the big casinos in Australia are owned and operated by private businesses, under license provided by State authorities like the ACT Gambling & Racing Commission, the Northern Territory Licensing, Commission, and the Office of Liquor, Gaming & Racing in New South Wales.
Casinos in Australia can be really entertaining, but you should make sure to follow the rules. Here are a couple of them:
- Only adults (18+) are allowed to enter and play at casinos
- Casino winnings are not taxed in Australia
Poker machines & slots in Australia
The Aussie love affair with gambling machines is the stuff of legends. The interesting thing about Australian pokies is that they can be found outside the big casinos, even in small bars and clubs.
New South Wales by itself is home to nearly half of all pokies in Australia. The state has around 100000 machines, which is second only to Nevada in the US (which includes Las Vegas). That should give you a clear idea about the prevalence of pokies in Australia.
They are incredibly easy to access in virtually all states and territories of Australia. Western Australia is the only exception, where pokies are prohibited outside big casinos.
According to Australian law, these machines have a max betting limit, currently at $5. Due to their addictive nature and rising issue of problem gambling, governments are thinking about lowering the limit to $1.
The return to player (RTP) on gambling machines is decided by state laws. For example, here are the current minimum RTP limits in a few states:
- NSW, Victoria, Queensland, NT – 85%
- ACT – 87%
- South Australia – 87.5%
Racing & sports betting
Betting on horse races and sporting events are legal in Australia. Punters can place their bets at race courses, call centers, as well as retail counters across the country. Online sports betting is also legal with several licensed brands offering a wide range of betting markets.
In the past, racing bets were controlled by the State-owned Totalisator Agency Boards (TABS). Over the last few decades, many of these TABs have become privatised. The following are some of the dominant players in this arena:
- Paddy Power Australia
- Racing & Wagering WA
While most forms of sports betting are legal, Australia has banned live betting on sporting events. All bets have to be placed before the beginning of the match.
Lotteries & Keno
Australia has a wide variety of lotteries, both state-owned as well as private. They are available across all eight states and territories. There is only one operator which has Keno – South Australia Lottery. The following are a few of the major brands of lotteries found in the country:
- Oz Lotto
- Monday Lotto
Online casinos & gambling
According to the current gambling laws in Australia, all forms of online casino gambling (except the ones already mentioned) are prohibited. There are strict laws that prevent businesses from providing online casino & gambling services to Australian players.
But this only applies to companies and players are not targeted by the laws in Australia. There are no provisions to punish players who use off-shore casinos & sportsbooks. You are free to choose where you want to place your bets online.