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How Did Australia Become a Mecca for Gamblers?

Most people around the world know that Australians love gambling. The 2014/2015 Australasian Gambling Council report of the gambling industries indicates that the average adult in Australia drops around $1,172.14 on gambling every year. And this makes this country the global gambling capital.

Perhaps, the best way to perceive this is to consider Ireland, which has the third-highest gambling rate globally. However, the Irish people spend about $600 on gambling every year. In America, gamblers spend around $400 each annually. And figures for Ireland and the U.S are from 2010 when an average Australian gambler spent almost $1,300 on gaming per year.

The primary draws for gamblers in Australia that want to test their luck are the electronic gaming machines. These are mainly video poker machines or pokies. Pokies are primarily slot machines with several spinning reels or poker hands. They offer significant payouts for gamblers with small investments, and the games earn the Australian gambling industry a significant revenue amount.

As of 2014, over half of the $21 billion that gamblers in Australia spent on gaming went to pokies. So while some people think Las Vegas has the most video poker machines, Australia has more than the United States. Ideally, this nation has more pokies than other countries despite having the 52nd largest population.

And most of these machines are not in casinos. Instead, they are in registered pokie clubs and hotels. But this doesn’t mean that this country is lacking in its casino department. On the contrary, casinos provide the second-most popular gambling source for Australians, generating over $4 billion annually.

The top casino in this country pulls almost 11 million visitors annually. Apart from casinos and pokies, this country has other gambling flavors that the locals enjoy regularly. And these include racing that generates $2.8 billion annually, lotteries which generate $1.9 billion. And sports betting, which generates $626 million per year.

Why Is Gambling So Popular in Australia?

People have tried to explain gambling popularity in different ways. For instance, some people argue that gambling has always been an integral part of the Australian culture since the early days of the colonial era. Gambling seems like a flow-on from Elizabethan England and the settlement’s harness in the early days.

For this reason, Australia embraces gambling because it’s been part of a culture where reward and risk reign supreme. Most Australians see gambling as entertainment, like puppet shows, sporting events, and concerts. Essentially, gambling is part of the country’s entertainment heritage.

While many countries shunned gambling in the past, the world tends to accept it, increasing its availability gradually. Perhaps that’s because of the increasing number of online and offline venues where people can gamble comfortably. For instance, somebody can visit the RedDog website to bet anytime, regardless of their location.

In a sense, Australia led a gang that tolerated gambling since the early days. However, this alone may not explain gambling’s popularity in Australia. Therefore, some people argue that this fame is about marketing. Also, Australian casinos, the hotel industry, and sports betting generate significant revenue for the government from taxation, particularly poker machines.

Some experts even argue that Australian governments have an addiction to gambling revenue the same way gamblers have a gambling addiction. For instance, the Australian government collected a tax worth $5.44 billion from the gambling industry in 2014. And around $3.18 billion of this was from pokies. The electronic noises, bright lights, and fun names of these pokies encourage most people to gamble.

It’s not surprising that gamblers between 18 and 24 years play pokies more than the people in the other age groups. What’s more, some people with gambling problems started by paying pokies in their teen years. In Australia, problem gamblers are people that play pokies regularly. And one in every six people is a problem gambler, losing around $21,000 to gambling every year.

While this figure may feel high, some people play pokies more aggressively by gobbling up over $1,500 per hour. Therefore, pokies pose a financial threat to an individual with a gambling predisposal.

In summary, the high gambling rate in Australia may not be because people covet this tradition as part of the culture. Instead, it’s due to heavy gambling promotion, especially by making pokies readily available. While Australian states regulate pokies, the regulations are a bit relaxed.

For instance, the New South Wales state implements a state-wide pokies cap. However, this cap is up to 99 thousand machines. While the state is yet to reach this number, it’s getting close. This state had 951783 pokies in 2014. Thus, New South Wales has more pokies than the number of koalas in entire Australia.

Like with most things in this life, there is no black and white explanation for the high gambling rate in Australia. However, this country has exhibited a positive attitude towards most gambling activities for centuries. When you combine this with the captivating gaming machines and the fun they bring, you understand why Australia has the highest gambling rate in the world.

From the gambling industry’s standpoint, this was a significant success. The firm that invented pokies and placed them in hotels, casinos, and clubs across the country was an Australian company. Thus, the product was a perfect fit for the market. Aristocrat Leisure Limited made the first slot machine in the world in 1965. And this machine had electronic components.

Currently, this company is the second-largest electronic gambling machine maker, owning 60% of the Australian pokie market. As of 1990, an average Australian spent over 1% of disposable income on these machines. And this number reached 2% in 1996 before hitting 2.8% in 2000. So undoubtedly, this company played a significant role in transforming Australians into pokie players.

Today, employees in the betting and gaming industry enforce the Responsible Service of Gambling legislation. Ideally, these employees encounter different scenarios in their workplaces, and they make judgment calls while providing appropriate assistance. Therefore, understanding what gambling means in this country is essential and keeping abreast of the changing gaming landscape in this profession.

Most Popular Forms of Gambling in Australia

It’s no secret that gambling passion for the Australians dates back to when the migrants inhabited this country. As the migrants settled and developed their culture, gambling became an integral aspect of this culture. And this made this country one of the largest markets for the games of chance in real-time casinos and online gambling platforms. Here are popular forms of gambling in Australia.

Pokies or Slots

When most people think about gambling, the image of Vegas-like casino environments comes to their minds. They picture bright lights, slot machines, and crowds of gamblers pulling handles. And this explains the popularity of pokies or slots in Australia. Pokies are perfect for gamblers with no experience because they can try their luck while enjoying a social life.

The adrenalin rush that slots bring is another reason for their popularity in Australia. Slot games generate random numbers whether you play the real-time or online version, meaning gamblers don’t know what they will get. The thought of the possibility of becoming rich instantly when playing slots generates the adrenaline rush.

In Australia, pokies are the favorite games for most people. While some people visit land-based casinos to play these games, others play them online. Thus, slot games remain the most popular form of gambling in this country, generating profits amounting to over $10 billion annually.

Blackjack

Source: crescent.edu

Playing blackjack is the second most popular form of gambling in Australia. This classic game has always been popular in Australian casinos for years. Some people say that this popularity began the moment it hit the Australian casinos. And since this time, its fame has been rising.

Unlike pokies, blackjack requires some experience and learning. Nevertheless, this game has simple rules. Ideally, implementing a winning blackjack strategy will enable you to make money gambling with this game.

And this strategy can involve calculating your moves to achieve the best outcome. Playing blackjack is not just about luck. Instead, blackjack players implement tactics that increase their winning chances. And most Australian gamblers have the necessary blackjack skills.

Poker

Source: wired.com

Poker is the third-most-popular form of gambling in Australia. And this game requires more skills than the first two. Poker is a typical game in almost every Australian casino, and many Aussies try their luck in this game.

While most poker games are now available online, land-based casinos have them in different versions. These games are more developed in Australia, with casinos providing slightly easier types for players with difficulties understanding the classic version. Online gambling makes poker suitable for most players.

Most Australian casinos went online when the global COVID-19 pandemic put the world on hold. Today, many casinos in this country stream poker games live from large lands-based establishments. And these offer a complete gambling experience to players with real dealers. So for most people, the opportunity to play poker games from their homes is tempting and exciting.

Video Poker

Source: mypokercoaching.com

As hinted, Australians love slot-like games. For some gamblers in this country, video poker is a form of slot due to its layout. Winning chances are higher when playing poker than pokies. That’s why many people love playing video poker. What’s more, most online casinos offer lucrative bonuses to players. And most Australians don’t want to waste any opportunity to get these bonuses.

Online Baccarat

Table card games for high rollers are also popular in Australia. In the 19th century, only the famous and the rich could play online baccarat in Australia, particularly the French nobility. However, the internet has changed this, and other people can now play this game.

Baccarat rules are not complex. Therefore, many players have an easy time getting the baccarat essence and play it successfully. What’s more, baccarat odds favor players, making it perfect for gamblers that love winning. And you don’t spend hours on strategic planning to win this game. Thus, this game is ideal for most gamblers.

Sports Betting

Source: bettingtipsnow.com

The Australian people have always loved watching matches while betting on their outcomes. Essentially, sports betting fascinate many people in Australia, making it a famous form of gambling. Today, sports betting happens in online casinos. Among the common sports on which Australians love placing their wagers include football, cricket, horse racing, basketball, and hockey.

Scratches and Lotteries

Source: websta.me

Scratches and lotteries are also popular forms of gambling in Australia. However, these comprise a relatively small portion of the gamblers’ spending. Nevertheless, many Australians participate in these gambles in land-based casinos and online platforms.

It’s no secret that Australian gamblers love both traditional and online gambling. Nevertheless, online casinos’ popularity is increasing in Australia, like in other parts of the world. This is because the consumer base continues to expand, with more people seeing online gambling as a modern way to engage in economic activity.

What’s more, you don’t have to visit a terrestrial infrastructure or incur other expenses when gambling online. And this explains why online gambling’s popularity is on the rise in Australia and other places in the world.

The Annual Revenue from the Australian Gambling Industry

Since 2010, revenue from the Australian government has increased steadily. According to the latest statistics, the Australian government collected revenue worth $6.2 billion from gambling in 2018. Between 2015 and 2016, gambling revenue in Australia comprises 7.7% of the territory and state tax revenue. Western Australia had the lowest rate at 2.5%, while the Northern Territory had the highest rate at 12%.

Gaming revenue comprised 2.5% of the state revenue, after considering the other revenue sources. Between 2008 and 2009, gambling revenue in Australia was more than $19 billion, with household consumption share at 3.1%.

The entire gambling industry’s contribution to the Australian budget has increased in the last decade. And the government generates revenue from different forms of gambling. For instance, race betting generated almost $27 billion, amounting to total turnover from all casinos in the country.

Sports betting generated $11 billion, while gambling machines created a $153 billion turnover. These statistics from the Australian gambling industry reveal that the region leads worldwide. And with the continuing rapid growth pace for the gambling industry, the Australian government will continue to collect more revenue from different gaming activities.

Legal and Illegal Forms of Gambling in Australia

Source: aifs.gov.au

Australia has simple laws governing online gambling from a player’s viewpoint. Essentially, this country doesn’t have a law regarding a gambler’s ability to place a bet online. Likewise, this country’s criminal code doesn’t have a clause addressing the mere gambling act, sports betting or playing poker.

Nevertheless, Australian gamblers have difficulties finding safe online casinos. While many sites accept AUD and Aussie deposits, gamblers have to research them or stick with popular industry brands to ensure their safety.

Nevertheless, Australia has gambling regulations at the federal and state levels. Some of the organizations controlling gambling regulations include:

  • The Australian Capital Territory- ACT Racing and Gambling Commission
  • Northern Territory- A licensing commission for gaming machines
  • Western Australia- Racing, Liquor, and Gaming Department
  • New South Wales- Office of Gaming, Liquor, and Racing
  • Tasmania- Tasmanian Gambling Commission
  • Queensland- Office of Gaming and Liquor Regulations
  • Victoria- The Victoria Commission for Liquor and Gambling Regulations

Australia’s regulatory authorities allow gamblers to bet on different sports, including rugby, horse racing, football, F1, and cricket.

Here’s a breakdown of legal and illegal gambling in Australia:

  • Casino gambling: Australian citizens can visit offshore casinos. The operations of these establishments are outside any country’s laws. Players can also access onshore gambling. Online casinos welcome local players while offering games like the big wheel and casino war.
  • Slot machines: Pokies or slot machines are legal for Australian gamblers.
  • Poker: The law allows Australians to play poker games.
  • Bingo: Also called housie, bingo is legal in the country, with many casinos offering computer-simulated bingo versions.
  • Sports betting: Sports betting is legal in Australia, with gamblers placing different bets types, including in-game bets.
  • Lotteries: Australia has many legal and authorized lotteries. This country even has specialized keno establishments.

Gambling provides a way for Australians to have fun, and the government does not tax gamblers’ winnings. That’s because Australia does not consider gambling a professional but a recreational activity or a hobby. According to the Australian government, gains from any gambling activity are not an income. Instead, the state sees them as the outcome of good luck because somebody can win big and lose a lot of money in other gaming sessions.

Therefore, only gambling operators pay taxes to the government. Gambling operators’ taxation varies from one territory to another. Also, the government has different taxes for various gambling services—for instance, the government taxes turnover, net profit, and player losses.

Also, gambling operators pay a certain fee to acquire a license to provide gaming services. Different tax bases and tax rates make comparing taxes across the territories difficult. For instance, ACT’s keno has a turnover tax rate of 2.53%, while the gross profits tax rate is 10.12%.

Online and Offline Casinos in Australia

The Australian government legalized different gambling forms before the establishment of casinos. These include lotteries in 1880, pokies or slot machines in clubs in the 1900s, and race betting terminals in the 1890s.

In 1973, the country banned casinos before the Interactive Gambling Act authorized the Australian Parliament to address online gambling in 2001. IGA made online gambling platforms in Australia illegal for residents accessing them. Nevertheless, this act exempted the local sports betting websites.

In 2016, the IGA bill restricted all online gambling forms, licensed offshore and domestic platforms further. According to this bill, licensed offshore casinos could not provide gaming services to citizens unless they had an Australian gaming license and retained a jurisdictional right.

Offline Casinos in Australia

Source: thekatynews.com

Australian land-based or offline casinos are legal since 1973, when the country got the first casino in Tasmania. While there’s no regulation for these establishments at the Commonwealth level, every state or territory licenses, regulates, and oversees offline casinos independently.

Most offline casinos offer slot machines or pokies with over 1800 clubs and many big casinos offering these games. In Australia, a slot hall is a standalone venue or hotel with gaming machines only. The government regulates the total number of gaming machines that a slot hall can have, depending on the state laws.

A casino is more significant than a slot hall, with tables and dealers. However, a casino has more offerings, including poker tournaments, VIP rooms, poker, sports betting, multiple bars, hotel, restaurants, and much more. There are no official dress codes for Australian offline casinos, and people don’t pay an entrance fee. Both tourists and locals can visit and gamble in offline casinos.

Online Casinos in Australia

Source: sportsindiashow.com

Online casinos in Australia are illegal since 2001, but the government does not prosecute players. Thus, it’s legal to gamble but illegal for operators to provide Australians with real-money games. The Commonwealth regulates online casinos in Australia, and it’s primarily unlawful for Australian companies. Nevertheless, gamblers can play online on foreign gambling sites.

Because of the internet games’ global nature, online casinos’ legal status is complex. The Interactive Gambling Act regulates online casinos in the country. According to this act of 2001, online gambling services are illegal in the country if:

  • A website registered in Australia offers them
  • An Australian company operates the online casino
  • The online gambling platform accepts Australian players
  • It offers real-money games

This act prohibits Australian companies from offering real-money online gambling to players within its jurisdiction. Thus, it’s illegal for an Australian company to operate an online casino accepting Australian players. However, they can run an online casino, provided their territory or state allows it, and don’t take Australian gamblers.

Nevertheless, Australian citizens visit foreign online gambling sites that accept gamblers from this country. However, the complex legal status and pressure from the government hinder some online casinos from taking Australian players.

Final Thoughts

Australia has been a tourist destination for many people over the years, renowned for stylish hotels, beautiful beaches, and top-of-the-line casinos. In addition, Australian casinos are significant employers, earning the country billions of revenue.

The beauty of this country, its gambling history, and its positive attitude towards gambling are some of the reasons that made Australia a mecca for gamblers. Nevertheless, the current regulations for online gambling hinder land-based casinos from operating gaming sites freely. Thus, some foreign online casinos are taking a share of the gambling market from local offline casinos.