The Interactive Gambling Act, also known as the IGA, was passed by the Australian Commonwealth Parliament in 2001, and effectively made it illegal for any online gambling business located inside Australian borders to offer their services to the nation’s residents. The exceptions are Australian based online sports betting, online bingo or housies, and online lottery purchases, all of which remain legal platforms for Aussie residents to participate in. The IGA law used to be directed solely at gambling site operators, and did not apply to or affect those individuals seeking to participate in legal online gambling in Australia. In other words, the law of the land previously differentiated between providing gambling services and partaking in them: Application of the law was based on operators vs players. However, due to the recent enactment of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016, it is illegal for Aussie players to engage in online poker or casino games for real money at offshore gambling sites unless the site is also licensed by Australia.
As far as players in Australia were concerned, prior to the new piece of legislation, there were no Commonwealth laws prohibiting them from enjoying legally licensed online gambling entertainment, including online pokie machines, online poker, and any other interesting casino game that gets their attention. As long as players were careful to only select online destinations that were located outside of Australia’s borders, and that were legally licensed and regulated, then players were home free to enjoy legal betting. Now this exception only applies to offshore sites that are simultaneously licensed by the Australian government. The new bill does not affect the legality of online sports betting, bingo games and lottery ticket purchases.
It should also be noted that the IGA does not prohibit online gambling business that are based in Australia from offering their services to players outside of the country. This is an interesting take on things from Aussie lawmakers as they frown on the those offshore gambling businesses that continue to offer services to folks living in the land down under, yet have no problem offering those very services to the residents of other countries. As is the common problem among nations who prefer more control over the gambling industry that affects their own economy, online gambling businesses located outside of their borders are conveniently also outside the range and scope of Australia’s gambling laws.
Does the IGA make it illegal for Australian residents to participate in online casino or poker gambling?
No, the IGA does not make it a crime to engage in offshore online casino and poker gambling for real money, but the newly passed Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 does prohibit it unless the offshore casino is also licensed by an Australian State or Territory. The bill became law in 2017 and directly restricted the above mentioned forms of real money online gambling options which were previously available to Aussie punters.
Does the IGA make it illegal for Australian business owners to operate an online gambling site?
Not at all. However, the law does firmly enforce that any Aussie based online gambling sites that obtain licensing cannot offer any casino or poker gambling services to Australian players, nor can they advertise their services to local residents. They are legally permitted to accept customers from other countries. They must also be associated with a land based gambling business within Australia.
What Types of Online Gambling are Permitted by the IGA Law?
The IGA does permit Australian based online sports betting, as long as the bets are placed prior to the beginning of the game, match or event. Once the event has begun, it is not legal to place a wager. Live in play betting is considered interactive betting in Australia, and is not legal. The sportsbook must be licensed and tied to a brick and mortar bookmaking business within Australia. The IGA also provides licensing for online bingo, also known as housies, and online lottery games. The new Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill does not affect sportsbook gambling in Australia.
For casino or poker gambling, Australian players have been able to seek legally licensed offshore destinations at which to play online. However, the new law has made it illegal for Aussie punters to engage in single licensed offshore casino and poker gambling. Whether or not they have the ability to enforce this is unclear, but to continue participating in offshore gambling of this nature will be against the law now. This guide offers our professional recommendations for the industry’s top options for legal online gambling that is available to Australian players. Most online gambling sites that are legally accepting players from Australia also accept AUD currency to keep things simple. To continue engaging in this type of gambling entertainment after the bill is signed into law is done so at the player’s risk.
Are there any changes coming to the IGA as it stands now?
Well we are certainly not fortune tellers, however, there had been some movement to reign in online gambling by limiting payment options that are available to Aussie residents. There are some anti-gambling voices in Australia that seek to put an end to pokie machines altogether. Some restrictions have been placed on credit card companies and how they can process gambling related transactions in Australia. This should not prove to be problematic anytime soon due to the wide range of safe and secure online payment methods available to Aussie gamblers. While no changes are being made to the IGA, there is a brand new piece of legislation that has recently been passed called the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill. As mentioned above, the law prohibits residents from gambling at offshore online casinos and poker sites which are not concurrently licensed by an approved Australian State or Territory.
Thankfully, the current Prime Minister Tony Abbott is opposed to further restricting the gambling industry, and is more interested in solving problems through providing assistance to players who find themselves struggling with problem gambling. Each state and territory is free to set up their own gambling commission and enact regulations specific to their region, as long as they do not defy the Commonwealth laws that are in place, such as the IGA.