Gambling law in Australia – IGA

Gambling law Australia

With over 80% of Australian adults participating in gambling, it’s clear that it’s the nation’s top pastime. This prevalence has led to comprehensive regulation, notably through the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) passed in 2001 by the Australian Commonwealth Parliament.

The IGA aims to curb the expansion of gambling, safeguard families and communities from its adverse effects, and promote responsible gambling and consumer protection. It primarily focuses on online gambling services, making it illegal for operators, whether in Australia or abroad, to advertise or offer “real money” interactive gambling to Australian residents or specific designated countries.

However, the IGA excludes certain forms of gambling, such as sports bets and lotteries, deemed non-interactive as bets are placed before events commence. Additionally, land-based casino activities and online gambling for non-monetary stakes, like free online pokies, are not covered by the IGA.

This means that Australian citizens can legally engage with online casinos not compliant with the IGA, as enforcement targets the operators. Nevertheless, the IGA includes a due diligence provision, absolving online casinos from liability if they can demonstrate reasonable efforts to prevent Australian residents from accessing their services.

In essence, while the IGA regulates online gambling comprehensively, it doesn’t extend to all forms of gambling or hold individual players accountable.

Advertising online gambling

Advertising interactive online gambling to Australian audiences is prohibited under Part 7A of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. This ban encompasses various media platforms, such as the internet, broadcast services, print media, billboards, and hoardings. Exceptions exist for political advertising, inadvertent advertisements, and promotions in imported publications or websites not targeting an Australian audience specifically.

Internet service providers are typically shielded from liability under the Criminal Code for transmitting third-party content unknowingly or without recklessness. Section 5.6 of the Criminal Code extends this protection to most Commonwealth legislation containing criminal offenses. The advertising restriction in the Interactive Gambling Act draws parallels with the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992.

Ways to safeguard against illegal online gambling

Using online gambling platforms unlicensed and unregulated in Australia poses considerable risks. Illegal services typically operate offshore, where regulations regarding consumer protection might be lax.

There’s no assurance against fraudulent activities, and limited options for recourse if an unauthorized service provider refuses to return your deposit or winnings.

Online gambling complaints

To report any online gambling activities deemed unlawful or improperly advertised to individuals in Australia, you can submit a complaint to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) via their dedicated online complaint form.

What types of online gambling services are prohibited?

Gambling operators are prohibited from advertising or providing the following real-money online gambling services in Australia:

  • Slot machines (pokies)
  • Casino-style games (e.g., poker, blackjack, and roulette)
  • Scratch cards
  • In-play betting on sports events
  • Sports betting services lacking an Australian license
  • Wagering on lottery outcomes

Illegal online gambling platforms might falsely portray themselves as legitimate and authorized in Australia, aiming to attract Australian consumers by featuring images such as the Australian flag and native animals.

Exceptions to the Law

Exceptions to the legislation permitted certain types of online gambling within Australia. Notably, sports betting is allowed through licensed operators, provided that wagers are placed before the commencement of the event. The law specifies that online gambling is prohibited only if it involves interactive elements, hence pre-event betting is permissible while in-play betting is not. Similarly, online lotteries are lawful as long as they do not resemble instant-win scratch cards.

Technical loopholes

A government review in 2012, conducted over a decade since the enactment of the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA), revealed technical loopholes undermining its effectiveness. The IGA not only failed to achieve its intended goals but also posed potential harm to Australian players. This led to a significant portion of Australian gamblers resorting to prohibited services for their online gambling, many of which offered inadequate player protections. Resourceful bettors devised strategies to bypass restrictions, such as utilizing mobile phones to place bets during live events. Consequently, the review indicated a surge in online gaming providers and an additional $200 million expenditure on online gambling activities.

Problem gambling

Problem gambling isn’t necessarily about being completely out of control. It refers to any gambling behavior that disrupts your life, relationships, or those of your loved ones.

A typical response is to downplay, conceal, or deny gambling issues and the resulting harm. Some individuals may even deceive themselves or others regarding the amount of money or time spent on gambling. For many, acknowledging that their gambling is becoming problematic can be challenging.

Safe online gambling

The rise of online casinos in Australia has been remarkable in recent years, fueled by the convenience and accessibility they provide to players. Factors such as the widespread availability of high-speed internet and the prevalence of smartphones have significantly boosted the participation of Australians in online gambling pursuits and we covered the basics of safe gambling in an aritcle.

Casinos we recommend in 2024

The online casino demonstrates due diligence through several measures:

  • Clear communication with players about laws prohibiting interactive gambling services for Australian residents.
  • Stipulating in their terms and conditions that Australian residents cannot access their services while within Australia.
  • Ensuring player details do not indicate Australian residency.

Australian citizens may face a drawback if they opt for non-resident online casinos, as they lack recourse through Australian authorities if treated unfairly. However, choosing a licensed and reputable casino, even if regulated elsewhere, mitigates this risk.