Sat. Jul 20th, 2024

Although it is difficult to provide a comprehensive legal definition of gambling in Australia, usually talking, gambling is described as an action that affects betting cash or something of real importance on the outcome of an event that is determined wholly or partly by chance, e.g., at a sporting event or race, to win a prize or something else of value.

Gambling regulation in Australia also covers “trading promotions” (offered in other jurisdictions as “lotteries”), which are free competitions to promote trading. While such activities are generally permitted subject to compliance with requirements regarding factors such as fairness of the draw, publication of results, acceptable types of prizes, and others, some Australian states and territories require the organizer first to obtain a permit or other form of authorization from the relevant regulator.

Historical Perspective

The history of gambling in Australia starts earlier, around the 18th century. It was then that the first European settlers found the shores of Australia. They used to play a coin game called Two Up. The game developed in Ancient Greece, but at that time, it was trendy in England and Ireland.

Coins are tossed into the atmosphere simultaneously, and bets are positioned on which way they will land. The most profitable outcome was getting two odd pairs in a row. The game became quite famous in Australia during the Great Gold Rush.

Horse racing

The first authorized gambling started in 1810 when authorized horse racing took place by order of Governor Macquarie. At that time, horse racing was especially popular in New South Wales. By the 1840s, horse racing had become standard throughout Australia.

In 1861, the Victorian Racing Club organized the Melbourne Cup and capitalized on gambling. The Cup still exists, and bets are still placed on it. It currently generates up to $14 billion a year in bets. This is one of the most essential occasions in horse racing.

Current Legal Framework 

The Australian Government, together with state and territory governments, has introduced the National Framework – a set of minimum consumer protections for people who gamble online.

The national system provides more robust consumer protection for Australians who play online competitions for the first period.

The national program consists of 10 measures to empower people and minimize harm from online gambling. These measures provide easy-to-use tools and information to help people take better control of their gambling. These tools include the Voluntary Opt-Out Scheme and BetStop, the National Self-Exclusion RegisterTM.

The national system applies to all licensed online betting providers and protects all active account holders.

Online Gambling Regulations 

In 2001, the Australian federal government passed the Interactive Gaming Act 2001 (IGA), prohibiting online gambling services by offshore operators serving Australian customers. The IGA is implemented by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the Australian Federal Police. The IGA expressly states that it operates outside the territory.

The ACMA plays an active role in investigating reports of violations of the IGA and regularly publishes updates on its enforcement actions, which include the implementation of measures to block the websites of platforms found to violate the IGA.

According to the IGA, the ACMA has recently asked several regulators in foreign jurisdictions to take action against online casinos in Australia.

To offer legal forms of online gambling, operators must be licensed by a state or territory to allow online gambling. A license is also required for manufacturers of gambling-related equipment.

Violations of the IGA carry significant penalties, including specific provisions directing to a civil fine of up to 7,500 penalty units for individuals ($A1.665 million) or five times that amount for corporations ($A8.325 million). In addition, gambling operators may be penalized for violating license conditions or laws, or both, following government regulations.

Licensing and Regulation

The IGA establishes a general ban on interactive gambling. Nevertheless, he creates an oddity for:

  • Services considered regulated interactive gambling services and therefore require a license to provide legally.
  • Games that are considered neither a prohibited interactive gambling service nor a regulated interactive gambling service and, therefore, may be offered without the need for a license.

An operator may obtain a regulated interactive gambling service license in the relevant state or territory of Australia and, once licensed, may offer its services in all states and territories.

Available licenses

Licenses are available for lotteries, horse racing betting, sports betting, and betting on other events or contingencies.

The number of licenses issued needs to be fixed.


The applicant must be a business registered in Australia. The applicant, other companies in the structure, ultimate beneficial owner(s), director(s), and other persons who control or manage the business must be of good standing and integrity.

Application procedure

The application procedure brings, in the middle, about nine months from the date of application.

License duration and cost

The license duration varies but is typically five years (for betting operators).

The Northern Territory is where most online licenses are applied for and issued in Australia. Therefore, we will call it the reference jurisdiction. The application fee is A$24,200, and the annual license fee is A$24,200.

Impact of Legalization

In recent years, there has been increasing recognition that gambling-related harm affects not only people who gamble but also their families, friends, and wider community (see, for example, Browne et al. 2016, Dowling 2014, Goodwin et al. 2017, Hing et al. 2020, Langham et al. 2016 and Wardle et al. 2018).

A study by Goodwin and colleagues (2017) showed how many people (on average) could be negatively affected by someone’s risky gambling behavior. The study found that a person experiencing problem gambling can affect up to 6 other people around them, moderate-risk gambling can affect up to 3 people, and low-risk gambling can affect one more person. Immediate family partners, including spouses and kids, were most often identified as being affected by others’ gambling problems (Goodwin et al. 2017).

Responsible Gambling Measures

All gambling licenses issued by a state or territory are subject to strict responsible gaming and harm minimization requirements. These include state and territory restrictions on gambling advertising, as well as incentives to open an account and, in some jurisdictions, to gamble or engage in more frequent gambling. In addition, legislation and associated codes of practice have recently been updated to restrict gambling advertising and betting advertising during live and online sports broadcasts, with stricter restrictions between 5:00 a.m. and 8:30 p.m.

As Chief Editor of, Robert Reynolds says in November 2018, all State and Territory Gambling Ministers agreed a National Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF) for online betting, which is being phased in to create a nationally consistent approach to harm minimization measures such as bans on promotions ( for example, first deposit bonuses) offered to a potential customer to open a gaming account, a mandatory pre-opt-out commitment and a National Self-Exclusion Register (NSER) which could begin at the end of 2022, but more likely in 2023. Under the NCPF, from 30 March 2023, all licensed online betting service providers and licensed bookmakers in Australia will be required to display new nationally agreed gambling messages about the risks and potential harms of online betting in all relevant promotional materials and advertising on all platforms.

Recent Developments and Trends

The National Gambling Trends Study was developed to improve understanding of current and emerging trends in gambling and associated harms in Australia and areas to focus on in future policy and practice. The study includes surveys of people who regularly (at least biweekly) gamble on land-based slot machines and online about sports or betting, as well as interviews with key experts in policy, regulation, treatment, and protecting the interests of consumers in gambling.

In 2022, participants described several new gambling trends they had observed, including (AGRC 2023):

  • increasing exposure to gambling marketing, including advertising (e.g., television, social media), promotions and incentives (e.g., parlay bets, bonus bets, cashback offers, betting with mates), and sponsorships (e.g., sports promotions, celebrities or athletes )
  • growth in online gambling and concerns about potential harm due to factors such as widespread availability and ease of access, new operators and gambling products onshore and overseas (for betting and online gaming/casino products), and limited protection of consumers or monitoring people who may be at risk of harm.


Online gambling is controlled nationally by the Interactive Gaming Act 2001 (Cth) (IGA). The IGA sets the general policy for online gambling in Australia. Nevertheless, Australian states and regions then individually regulate online gambling in their jurisdictions following the directions in the IGA.

Land-based gambling is not regulated at the national level. Each state and territory has specific legislation governing land-based gambling.

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