When it comes to online casinos, Australian law can be a bit confusing to understand. About a decade ago, Australia passed a law that appeared to make online gambling illegal. However, to this day, Australians legally participate in online gambling activities with companies from around the world. Australians tend to have a wide range of gambling options, with most foreign sites actively recruiting Australian players.
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Are Australian Online Casinos Legal?
In 2001, the Australian government passed a piece of legislation known as the Interactive Gambling Act. This law was passed after concerns were raised about the possibly effects of online gambling, which was seen as potentially more dangerous for gambling addicts and other problem gamblers.
The Interactive Gambling Act, however, was targeted at the operators of online gambling sites rather than players. The IGA made it illegal for Australian individuals or firms to operate online casinos or poker rooms. There was a grandfather clause that allowed existing Australian online casinos to continue operation, though none of these sites are still active today.
In addition, the IGA also made it illegal for any online gambling site to accept Australian players for real money play. This applied both to foreign and domestic sites. However, despite this legislation, online gambling companies from around the world continue to offer their services to Australian players.
The long and short of this is that Australian players can legally play at any site around the world that accepts their play. It’s also worth pointing out that the IGA did not make online sports betting illegal in any sense of the word. Several online sportsbooks operate with government licenses in Australia, along with foreign sportsbook sites.
Online Gambling and Taxes in Australia
For the most part, Australians don’t have to worry about paying any taxes on their gambling winnings. As a rule, gambling winnings aren’t taxed as income, regardless of the amount or of the type of gambling you were participating in. In fact, if you didn’t keep records of your winnings at all, you’ll probably have no issues at all.
However, unlike in some countries, we can’t quite say there are no taxes on gambling in Australia. Technically speaking, it is possible that the government would require taxes to be paid by some professional gamblers who treated their gambling as a business, including doing all the activities that would go along with running a standard business (including record keeping and other signs of a business-like approach to your gambling). That said, even Australians who would consider themselves professional gamblers – such as professional poker players – have rarely met the criteria necessary to require paying taxes on their winnings.
Depositing and Withdrawing
It’s very easy to make deposits into an online casino from Australia. As we mentioned earlier, there are essentially no restrictions on players; all of the legal issues for online gambling come from the operator’s side of the equation. There are also few restrictions placed on financial institutions, meaning most methods of deposit are available to players – making casino depositing an easy task. Credit and debit cards are widely accepted, as are bank transfers, e-wallet sites, and prepaid options. Withdrawals are also generally easy to process, with most of the same options available to players.
The Future of Online Casinos in Australia
Gambling is a hot issue in Australia at the moment, with battles being waged on several fronts. The most highly publicized of these has been the intense debate over the future of poker machines (known as slot machines in most other countries), which are ubiquitous at the many clubs and pubs throughout Australia. One powerful MP who is critical to the current government being able to maintain power feels particularly strongly about regulating and restricting the availability of such machines, which is a controversial action considering the amount of revenue the poker machines bring into clubs. The government has already made recommendations that would see pre-commitment technology added to most poker machines, meaning players would have to stick to predetermined loss limits when they wanted to play any machine with a maximum bet of more than $1.
Of more interest to online casino fans in Australia is a proposed law that would place restrictions on financial transactions between individuals and online gambling sites (other than those approved by federal or state governments). Essentially, this legislation would act in much the same way as the UIGEA laws in the United States, making it more difficult for Australians to gamble online by disrupting the flow of money from players to sites, rather than targeting the players themselves.
However, the banking industry has come out strongly against the bill, saying that such legislation would be very difficult to properly implement. Thus far, the bill does not seem to have gained much momentum, and doesn’t appear like it should be a serious concern to players – at least for now.
In the short term, online gambling in Australia should continue much as it has for the last decade. However, given the volatile nature of the gambling debate in Australia, it is difficult to project what will happen there in the long run.