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Gambling in Australia
Australian Betting and Casino Laws
Australia is home to more than 400 racetracks and casinos. It has one of the best gambling scenes in the world, and Sydney is home to both the highly-regarded Crown Casino and Star City Casino. Poker pros such as Joe Hachem and Tony G. hail from the Land Down Under, and the annual Aussie Millions poker tournament features some of the largest buy-ins around. As an added bonus, the legal age to drink and gamble is 18.
Most forms of gambling are legal in Australia, and the activity is highly popular. The average Aussie will lose about $1,000 (US $679) on gambling each year. This means that Australians lose more money per adult at gambling than any other group on the planet. This number has increased 2 times over the last 25 years. In fact, more money is spent on gambling than on sporting, cultural or entertainment events.
Geographical Layout of Australia
The country of Australia is comprised of six states, two mainland territories and various minor territories. The states are Queensland, South Australia, Tasmania, Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales. The Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory make up the major mainland territories. Minor territories include Christmas Island, Norfolk Island, Cocos Islands, as well as a number of largely uninhabited islands (such as the Australian Antarctic Territory.
National Gambling Statistics for Australia
On a per capita basis, the heaviest losers per year were residents of the Northern Territories. On average, these residents lost $1,576 each on diversions such as casinos, lotteries, horse racing and slot machines (known as pokies ).
Residents of Victoria gambled away an average of $1,180, while those in New South Wales lost $1,212 per year. Western Australians got off the lightest with average losses of $469. Not coincidentally, Western Australia does not allow pokies in its nightclubs or pubs. Queensland ($853 per adult), South Australia ($725) and Tasmania ($821) were also below the national average in losses.
For the 2004-2005 year, 56.3% of the total net earnings from gambling came by way of gaming machines. Casino gambling accounted for 16.7%, dog and horse racing 13.4%, and lotteries and football pools pitched in for 9.3%.
As of June 2005, 76,848 were employed due to the gambling industry. More than half of these were involved with pubs or hospitality clubs. During this same period, there were 5,370 businesses which offered gambling services. 77.8% of these were taverns, hospitality clubs, pubs and bars.
Forms of Gambling in Australia
- Housie (Bingo) – The Australian version of Bingo, this game is frequently used to raise funds for churches, athletic groups and other non-profit organizations. It is available and legal throughout the country. Megabingo Australia is one of the largest bingo hall chains currently in operation.
- Horse and Dog Racing – Horse racing is run through the various Totalisator Agency Boards (also known as TABs), and it has been present in the country for over 100 years. There are three declared race clubs in the Australian Capital Territory – the ACT Racing Club, Canberra Greyhound Racing Club and Canberra Harness Racing Club. Dog and horse tracks can be found in abundance throughout Australia.
- Online Gambling – Due to rising concerns about interactive gambling, the Australian Government passed the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. This law targets online gambling services but not their customers. It is illegal to provide online gambling to a customer physically present in Australia, but it is not illegal for Australian citizens to play casino games or poker online. Advertising online casinos or poker in Australia is also illegal. Online lotteries and sports wagering are not illegal, as they are considered extensions of a land-based business.
- Sports Betting – Wagering on sports or races is legal in Australia, either online or in person. Numerous government licensed sportsbooks are available, including Betfair, Sportingbet and Centrebet.
- Lotteries – The lottery was made legal by the Lotteries Act of 1964. It allows for such wide-ranging promotions as raffles, silver circles (scratch-off cards), and lotteries. Lotteries are available throughout Australia, both online and at brick-and-mortar locations.
- Casinos – All Australian casinos are regulated by the Casino Control Act of 2006. This ensures that all casinos are run fairly and are free from criminal influence. All games must be played in the manner approved by the gaming commission. The following games are available at Australian casinos:
- Sic Bo
- 3 Card Poker
- Seven Card Stud
- Three Card Manila
- Texas Hold em
- Five Card Stud
- Canberra Poker
- Draw Poker
- Canberra Manila
- Pai Gow
- Money Wheel
- Mini Baccarat
- Casino War
- Canberra Casino Hold em Poker
- American Roulette
- Gaming Machines – In Australia, slot machines are usually referred to as poker machines, video poker or simply pokies. Of the $4 billion in gambling revenue collected in 2002-2003, more than half came from machines found in clubs and pubs. In fact, Australia had 21% of the world s gambling machines in 1999. At the end of 2005, licenses had been issued for 199,930 gaming machines in Australia.
Gaming machines in Australia use a video display in place of physical reels. Free games and bonus levels are often offered, and players can choose multiple ways to place their bets.
Laws governing game machines vary from state to state. In Queensland, for example, machines in a casino must have a return rate of at least 90%, while machines in clubs or pubs must meet a 85% minimum.
Australian Gambling by State and Territory
- Christmas Island – There was once a casino on this small island, but it went out of business in 1998. In the mid-1990s, it is believed that it made more money than all the mainland casinos combined. An application was filed in 2004 to re-open the facility, but it was blocked by the Federal Government. As a result, the island s economy has suffered greatly, and residents continue to push for a new casino.
- Australian Capital Territory – The ACT Racing and Gambling Commission regulates all gambling activities in the territory. Places to gamble include the Casino Canberra, Canberra Greyhound Racing Club, Canberra Harness Racing Club and Canberra Thoroughbred Park.
- New South Wales – Gaming, racing, liquor and charities are all managed by the NSW Department of Gaming and Racing. Casinos are supervised by the NSW Casino Control Authority. Casinos include the Panthers World of Entertainment in Penrith and Star City in Sydney. Cruise ship gaming is also offered out of Sydney and St. Leonards, and there are over 70 dog and horse tracks to choose from.
- Northern Territory – Gambling in the Northern Territory is administered by the Racing and Gaming Authority. Casinos are available both in Alice Springs and Darwin, and a horse track can be found in Fannie Bay,
- Queensland – Machine gaming, lotteries, keno and casinos are administered by the Queensland Office of Gaming Regulation. Casinos in the state include The Reef Hotel and Casino, Jupiters Townsville Hotel and Casino, Conrad Treasury Brisbane and Cairns. Over 70 tracks are available for Queensland dog and horse racing.
- South Australia – Gambling is administered by the Gaming Supervisory Authority. A casino is available in the city of Adelaide (Sky City Adelaide). Over 30 tracks are available for South Australia dog and horse racing.
- Tasmania – Gambling in Tasmania is controlled by the Tasmanian Gaming Authority. Tasmanian casinos include the Wrest Point Hotel Casino and Country Club Tasmania. 8 race tracks are offered for Tasmanian horse and dog racing. Poker machines are especially popular in Tasmania, as residents lost $204 million on these games in 2007.
- Victoria – Gaming in Victoria is regulated by the Victorian Casino and Gaming Authority. Casinos in the state of Victoria include the Crown Entertainment Complex and The Millers Inn. Over 70 racetracks are available for fans of Victorian horse and dog racing. Pokie players are also quite numerous. In a three month period in 2007, poker machine players in Victoria lost a staggering $678 million. This was an increase of $32 million over the same period in 2006.
- Western Australia – Gaming oversight in Western Australia is carried out by the Office of Racing, Gaming and Liquor. The most notable casino is the Burswood Entertainment Complex. A gambling cruise ship sails out of Fremantle, and almost 30 race tracks exist. There is also a horse track racino (Gloucester Park) located in East Perth.