Is Online Sports Betting legal in Australia?

The concept of gambling exists in pretty much every corner of the globe but that does not mean it is received in the same way in each of those places. Here we are focussing on the legalities and regulations down under as we look at the state of online sports betting in Australia.

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Online sports betting in Australia

If you're specifically asking the above question, ‘is online sports betting legal in Australia?', then the answer is yes, Or at least it sort of is. You have to remember that there is a reason why so many people in Australia ponder such a question; in a lot of nations around the world, it's just a given that you can crack on and place the bets that you so wish but that's not the case in Oz.

Firstly, you have to be careful what question you're actually asking. Online gambling, such as table and slot games within casinos, are prohibited under the Interactive Gambling Act was passed some 20 years ago. Sports betting – or more specifically online sports betting – falls under a separate framework though and is a legal activity.

Is it as simple as that?

Is the landscape of online sports betting in Australia really as simple as “sports are good” and “casinos are bad”? We would have to say no. There are layers to sports betting with one of those layers being in-play betting. The in-play market is a rapidly growing part of sports betting in nations such as the United Kingdom and the United States where people not only bet on it but actively use it as a betting come trading strategy. In Australia this is illegal.

The 2001 Interactive Gambling Act includes a clause prohibiting ‘interactive gambling'. Originally, this was intended to put a stop to bettors playing the likes of roulette, blackjack and digital scratchcards. As sports betting has developed though Australia has decided to include the act of betting on live events under this term. What we should stress, however, is that there is growing pressure from punters to have this decision reversed.

We do not want to speculate on whether or not that happens but it wouldn't be the biggest surprise. After all, you are allowed to place bets on live sports in Australia now but just not via the internet. Even those without access to bricks and mortar sites can place in-play bets; most heavily online orientated bookmakers offer a service where bettors can wager on live events providing they phone their selections in. This creates two major grumblings with those customers who want to bet in-play. Firstly, if you can bet on those markets with a bookmaker via the phone, what difference does it make if you bet online? Secondly, the key to exploiting real value in-play comes through jumping on bets in an instant; that's impossible when betting on the phone. Punters feel like they are getting shafted two times over.

Online sports betting in Australia

How do promotions work?

You might think with the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 being in a place that bookmakers aren't quick to utilise promos but you would be wrong. Again though, like with most things in the Australian online sports betting space, it is not black and white. The grey area comes courtesy of the Gambling and Betting Advertising Act. This act makes it illegal to actively push promotions to new customers. So, whilst in most places, welcome bonuses are rammed down your throat at every opportunity that's not the case in Australia.

Whilst the bookies can't put their offers up in lights though, it does not mean they don't exist. If you don't know that though it can be a bizarre experience. The first issue you have is that it makes shopping around for a new bookmaker quite tough; most people in other countries will be driven by the biggest available offer but in Australia, that's not an option. The other thing that can throw you off is the way websites are structured. Without creating an account you can navigate to the menus and locate a ‘promotions' section but they will usually be empty pages; it almost looks like the page hasn't loaded.

All that said, once you go through the process of creating an account, you will find a host of offers appear on those pages. These promotions can include anything from deposit bonuses to boosted odds. The only other thing to note is that some payment options will be excluded under the promo terms and conditions; we recommend you always read the small print to ensure you don't get caught out.

Are these the rules nationwide?

You might think that with such tight guidelines in place that you can live by the same set of standards across Australia but, sadly, that's not actually the case. Not yet at least. Things do seem to be moving to a more uniform set of rules but, for the time being, always check locally as there can be differences from state to state.

Are there many big-time bookmakers in the Australian market?

Given the complexity brought by strict rules and varying guidelines by state, it is only natural that you start to wonder what bookmakers would want to enter such a restrictive marketplace. The answer is quite a few. Regardless of the annoyances, the respective gambling acts bring to bookies, Australia is still an enormous pot of money for them to tap into. Oz boasts some massive brands in their gambling sector with Bet365, Ladbrokes, Betfair and Bluebet, who are slightly lesser known than the others, all operating online sports betting in Australia. It would not be much of a shock to see some other big names enter the space in the coming months and years either.

There you have it, our guide to online sports betting in Australia. Access here our ranking of the top Australian betting sites.

Avatar of Gavin Davison
Gavin Davison

Gavin is a full-time copywriter based in the UK and has developed in-depth knowledge of the igaming world by working in the betting industry for over five years. During this time, he has written thousands of articles covering various topics, including bookmaker reviews, ‘how to’ guides, bonus comparisons and much more.