Legal and illegal gambling in Australia - profits and problems

Gambling in Australia brings to the state treasury about 3,6 milliard USD annually. Australians is one of the most gambling nation in the world. Authority of states carefully controls gambling process. Australia has 22 land-based casinos and roughly developing online casino. The highest profit comes from slot machines.

On the territory of some states of Australia, gambling became legally allowed in the middle of the XX century. Full legalisation of gambling took place in the early 2000s. Currently, more than 60% of the profit from this business is brought by slot machines.

With taxes on gambling, the state annually replenishes its budget by billions of dollars. Online gambling, which was approved in Australia in 2001, is taxed as well.

However, inhabitants of the country are not allowed to play for virtual money online. Despite this, they can always take advantage of free video slots online if a provider does not block it. This happens if it deems the site a source of gambling games. Also, the access to online casinos can be closed with or without cause.

Gambling business in Australia

Gambling in Australia has developed confidently practically from the times of its occupation by British and Irish.

First legislative legalization of gambling business was held on the territory of West Australia, when Betting Control Act was produced in 1954. The last one was North territory, where Gaming Control Act was accepted only in 2005.

In 2016 in Australia work 22 land-based casinos, 2 racecourses, 3 bookmakers, 1 bingo hall. Online gambling industry has been successfully developing since 2001.

Gambling capital of Australia is Sydney. The largest casino is Aquis Great Barrier Reef Casino that is situated in state Queensland. General revenue of Australian casinos in 2015 made USD 19 milliard.

Treasury revenue from Australian gambling industry is calculated in milliard dollars. At the end of 2015 revenue from all gambling venues composed USD 3,6 milliard. Analysts consider that in 2020 budget receipts from casino will be USD 6,2 milliard. All forms of gambling business bring revenue to the treasury in amount of USD 1,6 milliard, including USD 1 milliard from slot machines.

History of gambling business in Australia

History of gambling business in Australia is greatly determined by influence of Great Britain and the USA. Especially it is noticed at the beginning of exploration of the continent: the stricter attitude to gambling sphere in the West, the more liberal looks Australia on its background. Games consider being essential element of Australian culture.

Gambling industry was brought to Australia by first settlers. British gambling games were supplemented by European features.

Horse Racing

Initial form of organized gambling games in Australia was horse racing. Untiol the end of 19th century, almost every city has its own racecourse. Greyhounds also attracted fans, but horses remained their position of leader. First horse racing was held in Sydney in 1810.

Bookmaker offices

Gambling in Australian culture: development of bookmaker industry was closely connected with horse racing. Some states introduced betting at racetracks by 1890, in such a way increasing interest to bets. Illegal bets blossomed in 1930-60 with development of telephone and radio. In order to fight with illegal bets, government of Australia introduced national BK – Totalizator Agency Boards (TABs).

Already in 1970 bets were the most popular form of gambling industry in the country. Horse racing and their totalizators were prospering until 1990, when appeared new directions of gambling.

Sport bets

Sport bets were forbidden until 1980. But this didn`t prevent Australians from placing bets on cricket, football, boxing and other kinds of sport. Now TABs and bookmakers make available some limited amount of sport matches. Internet betting was legalized in 1996 on the North Territory, and then it was followed by other states.


Lottery in Australia is held since 1880. First lottery was private Tattersall. It travelled from one state to another because authority forbade it. Eventually, it found home in Victoria. For a long time, Tattersall was the only private lottery in Australia.

Lottery was always considered to be national monopoly. Golden Casket Art Union – first state lottery, introduced in 1916. Money went to charity and public funds. Periods of prosperity were in 1980s.


According to gambling in Australia history casinos themselves were forbidden until 1973. Authority thought them being a difficult object for regulation and, in addition, potentially disruptive force for society.

Nonetheless, casino started its development. Then Tasmania and the North Territory considered being not developed enough and poor states. They tried to revive the economy with the help of casino introducing. Initial four casinos in these areas were small clubs, reflecting British-European influence.

Recession in the economy continued, and in 80s casinos appeared in Queensland, South and West Australia. States made attempts to attract tourists and investors from Asia and America. As a result, appeared buildings of large casinos in American style.

The next stage in 1990s marked by building of great entertaining complexes in Sydney and Melbourne. The amount of Australian casinos increased from 8 to 14 items.

All Australian casinos are regional monopolies, majority is run by local companies. 1990s became the period of casino`s prosperity, however, in the end of this decade began slow decline. The largest casino Reef Casino, for example, in 1997-1998 suffered from finance problems. New breath for industry gifted appearance of slot machines.

Slot machines

Slot machines in Australia are named poker machines or pokies. First, they came to sight in New South Wales in 1956. At these locations they turned to be quite quickly leading form of gambling, and then spread to another states.

Already in 1980s slot machines became the most popular directions of gambling in whole Australia. Customary interest is kept by development of computer technology, progressive jackpots and other innovations.

Amount of slot machines in New South Wales concedes only to American state Nevada. Australian state has more than 95 800 slot machines.

Legislature in gambling business of Australia

Every Australian state owns its individual regulator of gambling business:

  • Australian Capital territory – ACT Gambling and Racing Commission;
  • New South Wales – New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing;
  • North territory – Licensing Commission;
  • Queensland – Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation;
  • Tasmania – Tasmanian Gaming Commission;
  • Victoria – Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation;
  • West Australia – Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor.

States publish their own acts in different directions of gambling business, and there is no single gambling act in Australian as such.

Age qualification in all states consists 18 years for all the games, from sport bets to casino.

If player reaches gambling Australia age 14-18 years old, he is absolutely responsible for his action, although, he is punished in different way, than adults do. It is determined by juvenile legislation. Punishment has form of a fine or public works, house arrest or other measures.

Taxation of casinos in Australia

Gamblers` winnings are not taxable, because their revenue is not part of a profession. Despite this, authority taxes casino operators.

While the decade of 2000s government`s treasury was filled by quite serious revenues from gambling business.

  1. Majority goes from gambling properly – USD 657 million;
  2. Tax revenue – USD 236 million;
  3. There are also taxes on the turnover of lotteries and bookmakers, on network profit from slot machines, and also license fee.

Casinos also make large charitable contributions and sponsor various institutions. General size of such grants from casinos in 2009-2010 composed USD 9,6 million.

Contribution into GDP of the country

  • Little contribution into GDP (Gross Domestic Product) make pubs, bars and night clubs, where situate slot machines – USD 15,7 million or 0,42% in GDP.
  • Then go social clubs – USD 10,3 million or 0,31% of GDP.
  • Third place is occupied by casino – USD 5,3 million or 0,19% of GDP.

Profit from gambling in Australia

As it was mentioned, in 2015 Australian casino received USD 19 milliard. Structure of revenue is following:

  1. Slot machines in clubs or hotels – 55%;
  2. Lotteries, pools and keno – 12%;
  3. Bets on horse racing – 13,6;
  4. Sport bets – 1,2 %;
  5. Table games in casino – 7,6%;
  6. Slot machines in casinos – 7,2%;
  7. VIP casinos – 3,4%.

Online gambling in Australia

Legislative and interactive gambling act in Australia, concerning online gambling, was accepted in Australian Parliament on 28th June 2001.

The law legalizes games online, but it has some features. It forbids to offer “games for real money” to citizens of Australia. In the relevant section of the site, you can find the useful information about playing slots for money. Besides, advertising of online gambling games, poker and casino isn`t allowed. 

Nevertheless, already in 2010 profit from online gambling business reached USD 800 million, in accordance with report of Australian authority.

Access to usage of online servers as such is not a crime. Australian operators can propose their services to people of the country and abroad.

Best online casinos in Australia

Below is the list of casinos, which Australians visit more frequently. All venues are members of eCOGRA. This abbreviation stands for eCommerce Online Gaming Regulation and Assurance – this is regulator of online gambling business that is allowed by gambling authority of Australia.

Online casinos of Australia in general provides games produced by such companies:

  • Microgaming;
  • BetSoft;
  • EvolutionGaming;
  • NetEntertainment;
  • NYXGaming.

These platforms work with Australian dollar, people trust them in questions of security and quality.

The list of popular Australian casinos

  10. G’

Slot machines in Australia

Australia stays at seventh position in the world on slot machines quality. It worth noticing, that global hit row lead:

  1. Japan (pachinko);
  2. The USA;
  3. Italy;
  4. Great Britain;
  5. Spain;
  6. Germany.

Amount of slot machines in Australia remains stable on the level about 200 000 examples in land-based casinos, bars, hotels and other places. To 60% of casino`s profit bring slots.

Gambling in Australia news show that the most popular kinds of slot machines are items with video screens, where are represented games with five reels. All slots are electronic, who use random number generator. Progress of electronic technologies caused growth of jackpots in several times in comparison with mechanic machines. This resulted in an increase of popularity of slot machines.

Slot machines in states of Australia

Slot machines bring revenue to the budget of Australia in amount of USD 3-4 milliard. The majority of slots are in such sates:

  • New South Wales;
  • Victoria;
  • Queensland.

Exactly these three states formulate the economy of slot machines all over the country.

Slot machine in New South Wales

This state contains a half of all slots of Australia, if we include Australian Capital Territory. The amount hovers around number 97 000 examples.

Slot machines in Victoria

In state Victoria are 15% of slots – about 29 000 things. The state set the limit RTP – interest of slot machines payout. Player has to get back to 87% of invested money.

In addition, state authority in 2007 forbade usage of 100$ bills in slot machines. Regime of Autoplay is not allowed, also. The only exception is Crown Casino in Melbourne, where VIP-players with a club card can place bets, fold USD 100. They can use regime of Autoplay too.

Automatic play let rotate wheels without pushing a button by hand: you start one time, then reels rotate themselves. Such regime often leads to higher losses.

Slot machines in Queensland

Queensland contains more than 45 000 slots. State`s government accepted the law about minimum deduction in favor of the casino. Minimum prize of casino on slot machines equals 90%. Profit of pubs and clubs from slot machines must be from 85%.

Casino winning – is privilege, average prize as mathematic expectation. It considers being revenue of organizer.

Slot machines in West Australia

West Australia was holding quite strict policy in gambling business for a long time. Slot machines were permitted only in Crown Perth. At the current moment casino provides more than 2500 slots and machines with video poker, keno, bones dominoes.

Slot machines in Tasmania

Slot machines in this Australian state bring about USD 215 milliard profit annually. The largest revenue was in 2009 – USD 220 milliards, since that time earnings gradually decreases. Tasmania Government transferred monopoly on slot machines to Federal Hotels. They have more than 3680 slots. There is also widely used gambling advertising in Australia.

Slot machines in South Australia

Government of South Australia adopted the law, whereby minimum bet per spin (single rotations of slot wheels) must be USD 5. Previous number was USD 10.

One addition law allows players set limits of losses before the beginning of gameplay. This bill differs venues of various scales:

  • Great platforms – to 60 machines;
  • Small platforms – to 20 machined.

Difference between them lies in the possibility to use ATMs and organize players’ clubs.

Slot machines in North Territory

It is one of the most gambling state in Australia. Players game here away about USD 200 million on slot machines. This means that, more than 1200 gambling houses collect USD 140 million from slot machines. Authority receives about USD 60 million.

Number looks not very large compared with other states, but some people consider this being disturbing trend. Amount of slot machines increased fivefold for last 10 years – this means: their revenue increased in the same score.

The most popular slot machines in Australia

  1. Hitman;
  2. Break da Bank;
  3. Thunderstruck II;
  4. Alaskan Fishing;
  5. Immortal Romance;
  6. Major Millions;
  7. Mega Moolah;
  8. Tomb Raider;
  9. The Dark Knight.

Demography of gambling business in Australia

Demography of social casino, land-based and online differs a little bit.

Social casinos in Australia attracts young visitors to 30 years old more, than online and land-based do. Typical guest of social casino is woman about 35 years old. As a rule, player of such venue has some status in society – about 40% of visitors has university education, 35% works full-time, 25% of players work as mangers or specialists, 23% earn more than USD 70 000 per year.

Among visitors of online casino 18% are younger than 30 years. Standard gamer in online bingo or online casino – woman older than 40 years. Men are more frequent met in online poker, as in social, as well in casino for real money. They also place more on sport and horses. As a rule, online gamers have high social position too: higher education, work full-time annual earning above average.

Among guests of land-based casino are 25% gamers with the age younger than 30 years. Women older than 40 years choose playing in general slot machines.

It worth knowing that these numbers are provided by gamers themselves in online polls. Nevertheless, these statistics give good picture of common Australian player portrait.

Australian themselves say that they love gambling more than other nations. More than 80% of adult population annually spend money in gambling plays: place on something, play in table games, slot machines or lotteries. That might be good idea to think about gambling addiction Australia statistics.

Future of gambling industry in Australia

Analysts believe that by 2020, gambling revenues in Australia will amount to USD 6,2 milliard.

Billionaire James Packer is building VIP hotel-casino worth USD 1,3 milliard in Sydney. There are also plans to build two Chinese casinos in Queensland, both value about USD 8 milliard. All gambling houses are going to open in 2018-2019.

In such a way, gambling business in Australia keeps certainly developing, successfully competing with recognized gambling countries of the world.

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