Australia was actually one of the first nations to address online gambling legislatively.
Yes, the nation of people most likely to gamble is also the nation most stringently prohibitive about online casinos.
And yet somehow, Aussies are registering with offshore online casinos as you read this. They are placing bets by the minute. Websites around the globe are offering online casino action on computers from Canberra to Kalumburu. How could this be?
- History of Australian Gambling
- What You Will Find at Australian Online Casinos
- Tips For the Australian Gambler
How Oz Learned to Stop Worrying and Ignore the Internet
Perhaps that’s not as well-known a saying as we thought. Maybe we should have simply said this: Australia’s Parliament is just as prone to ham-fisted mistakes as any other legislative body. History books tell us, for instance, of the importation of European rabbits to Australia in the mid-1800s.
Unfortunately, the rabbits had no significant native predators, and when they started reproducing like, um, rabbits, Australia soon had a population explosion on their hands. It wasn’t long before Australia’s government declared European rabbits a common pest and placed a bounty on their skins.
Next Chapter: What Could Possibly Go Wrong?
The bounty did little to turn the tide. So, the Aussie government brought in a disease specific to the rabbits. Yes. That’s what we said. The disease (a virus named myxoma, for those taking notes) did, indeed, reduce the rabbit population—quite dramatically, in fact. Unfortunately, the rabbits that survived the virus had an immunity to the disease, and so, all too soon, they were back at work, doing what rabbits do. Passing their immunity on to the next generation was a bonus.
Long story short: Like pretty much every other government around the world, the Australian government ignored the Universal Law of Unintended Consequences and suffered for that oversight.
And This Applies to Online Gaming How?
How is it possible—in a country where roughly 80% of the adult population regularly gambles—that it is illegal to run an online casino? Australia is no backwater country. Its citizens were recently ranked as second only to the Swiss in average wealth, and the nation’s currency, the Australian Dollar (AUD), is fifth in the world in trading.
According to the Australian government, the average Aussie spends twice as much on gambling as citizens of North America and Europe do.
It is true that every one of the six states and both of the territories that comprise Australia are home to at least one brick & mortar casino. And yet, somehow the idea of playing a slot machine in the privacy of your own home seemed morally inferior to playing a pokie down at the local casino. Not only inferior but addictive.
Dangerously addictive, maybe.
Suddenly, Australia’s Parliament was concerned—no, alarmed—that Australians would become addicted to online gambling, or would be taken advantage of by shady fly-by-night casino operators, or both.
And so, in 2001 the Interactive Gaming Act (IGA) was passed, prohibiting any and all online casinos from operating in Oz. And as time went on and the Internet only grew in popularity as a gambling venue, Parliament amended the IGA to include exorbitant fines that would ensure no company or software developer would risk operating in Australian cyberspace.
One quick aside: Conspicuously absent from Australia’s list of deadly gambling sins is sports betting. Sports betting sites are entirely legal in Australia, provided they are licensed by the state or territory from which they do business.
Not so fortunate were the many online casinos serving the Aussies. But Australia’s draconian online gambling regulations only served to scare away licensed, reputable online gambling operations, it seems. Poker Stars, for example, joined the exodus of firms unwilling to test the prohibition’s power. Game software developer Microgaming likewise decided to give Australia a wide berth.
Nobody Could Have Seen That Coming
In hindsight, Australia could have predicted the chaotic failure of prohibition had they only bothered to look at the United States’ dalliance with another form of prohibition in the early 20th Century.
You see, as the Australian government was congratulating itself for having eradicated online casinos from their borders, they failed to consider the Australian people. The Australian people who, you may recall, will bet on pretty much anything and happen to be the world’s verified and undisputed champions of gambling.
Yes, Parliament had declared, in no uncertain terms, that no online casino company would be permitted to advertise, offer, record, place, pay, or have anything else to do with any sort of online casino whatsoever. All the bases were covered. Except one: Parliament had not mentioned a word about what Australians themselves might do in terms of wagering.
Yes, it seems like a very silly oversight by Parliament, but there it is.
The results were laughably predictable. Combine the Aussie’s well-known affinity for gambling to the truth that gambling—like power—abhors a vacuum, and what do you get?
You get the sudden appearance of a multitude of anonymous operators on every computer screen in Australia, each more eager than the last to offer a sign-up bonus to those wanting to play the pokies from the comfort of their own living room.
The unintended consequences of the IGA and its later amendments are legion. Sadly, the Australian Parliament hadn’t created a prohibition. It had created a black market.
Like all black markets, online casinos in Australia offer a tantalizing array of features and dangers. So what if the firms you’re doing business with are already skirting the edge of legality? So what if a government that turns a blind eye to your wagering also turns a blind eye to a casino taking your money and disappearing, as they say, into cyberspace?
It’s ironic that Australia enjoys a robust and (mostly) healthy relationship with sports betting and bookmakers. Venerable international firms such as William Hill and Unibet provide solid, licensed and regulated wagering services to Australia’s eager punters. Australia enjoys a significant revenue stream from taxes paid by these bookmaking firms.
Parliament’s contrary attitude toward online casinos, on the other hand, must remain something of a question wrapped up in a mystery inside an enigma.
One fact remains: As an Aussie gambler, you are left to your own devices to decide upon the honesty, integrity, and reliability of each online casino.
First of all, put it out of your mind that the casino you’re interested in having a go at is hosted or based in Australia. Not possible. A quick WHOIS of a website will often reveal interesting facts about online casinos. One that speaks with a decided Strine accent, for instance, turns out to be registered and served from Russia.
Others decline to allow any information about themselves to be revealed at all, and a visit to their websites will reveal little of informational value.
Your Favorite Pokies
A few of the main software developers in the online casino biz are missing from Australia-friendly websites, with Microgaming arguably the largest among them. But Real Time Gaming (RTG) remains. Additionally, one of the most prolific names in online gambling software, BetSoft, is also present at most Australia-friendly online casinos.
And, as you might expect on the frontier of any no man’s land, a variety of newer, but not necessarily smaller software developers, such as Booming Games, Booongo Entertainment, Felix Gaming, Future Gaming Solutions, Globalslots Deluxe, Lucky (which appear to offer only slightly modified and/or renamed GameArt creations), Mr. Slotty, and Wazdan.
That said, you will not lack for variety in video poker and table games. All the regulars are there, including:
- Caribbean Stud
- Caribbean Hold’em
- Pai Gow Poker
- Let’em Ride
- …And virtually every variation of video poker known to man
Like most of the world’s online casinos, you’ll find Aussie-friendly online casinos are still playing catch-up in the mobile gambling arena. That said, you should be able to find a good selection of mobile versions for many popular pokies.
Live Dealer Games
While mobile slots and video games might have some catching up to do in the Australian marketplace, live dealer action picks up the slack with the usual Baccarat, Roulette, Super6, and Blackjack well-represented for both PC and mobile screens.
For some reason, you’ll also find plenty of Keno. Oh, and one of the more surprising appearances here—often overlooked in other jurisdictions but prevalent among Australia-friendly online casinos—Bingo. Aussies do love their bingo. Or, at least, online casinos are betting they do.
Money In, Money Out
The Australia-friendly online casinos offer the usual gamut of deposit methods, including credit card, debit card, prepaid cards (such as Neosurf), wire and bank transfer, as well as a growing list of cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum.
Withdrawal options remain limited, with wire or bank transfers remaining the two most popular offerings. Cryptocurrency withdrawals are growing in availability, so if Bitcoin is your preferred withdrawal method, you should find plenty of Aussie-friendly online casinos eager to serve you.
In addition to the usual sign-up bonuses and cashback rebates for losses on particular days, many Australia-friendly online casinos offer comp points, just like your favorite brick and mortar casinos. Of course, it’ll be a little difficult using those comp points to eat at the buffet, but you can exchange those comp points for cash, and who doesn’t like cash?
In Australia, where online casinos are the Wild West, the first rule is as obvious as it is simple: Protect yourself at all times.
WHOIS Your Friend
One of the best tools to get familiar with is WHOIS. This is a service provided by ICAAN and other sites that allow you to look at the ownership of a specific domain name. This isn’t foolproof, however. Many websites, particularly those that want to avoid scrutiny, simply require their registrar (such as GoDaddy or Network Solutions) to mask their contact information.
Two other utilities to consider are PING and TRACERT (Trace Route). These two will provide you with the IP address of the site in question, as well as the route your signal takes as it wends from your PC to their server.
You might discover, for example, that an Australian online casino that appears to be hosted in the United States is actually just some anonymous organization using a proxy in the U.S. to hide their actual location and information. That anonymous organization could be anywhere. And probably is.
Just not Australia.
Terms & Conditions of Endearment
Carefully read the terms and conditions posted on any online casino you plan to gamble with. These are the rules the casino will play by—and which it expects you to play by, as well. Important information like how long you should expect to wait for a withdrawal to reach your bank, or how much rollover (or playthrough, if you prefer) you will need to wager before collecting a bonus.
Also, you should take note—perhaps buried in the fine print—of the jurisdiction under which these rules will be interpreted should you and the casino come to a disagreement. You might discover that while the online casino outwardly presents itself as a purely Australian entity, it is only licensed in Curaçao, and any disputes you have with it concerning your online play there will be adjudicated according to the applicable laws of Cyprus.
Now, Curaçao, Malta, Cyprus, and any number of other unlikely countries come up a lot in the terms and conditions of virtually all online casinos, so the multiple-nation pedigree of any particular casino is not necessarily cause for alarm, but you should be aware of it. We would urge you, however, to refrain from doing business with any online casino that is not licensed at all.
Watch Your Pennies and Your Dollars Will Look After Themselves
When you’re finally ready for some real money action, make sure the online casino accepts deposits (and permits withdrawals) in AUD. Make sure the deposit—and more importantly, the withdrawal options—both meet your approval and provide for a speedy, efficient, and accurate transaction.
For deposits, most Australia-friendly online casinos will accept the standard bank or wire transfer, as well as credit cards (Visa, Mastercard, Maestro, American Express), and prepaid cards such as Neosurf and Net+ (Neteller). Additionally, many accept cryptocurrency such as Bitcoin, Litecoin, and Ethereum, for example.
Withdrawal options are usually fewer, but most online casinos serving Australia include withdrawal options such as the standard wire or bank transfer, as well as the newer Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies. Average withdrawal times are pretty standard, with 2-3 business days being the norm.
Never Read the Reviews
Sorry, that’s advice for actors. For online gamblers, the advice is the opposite: Always read the reviews.
Many sites review online gambling establishments. True, many of these are little more than touts for their clientele of sketchy online casinos, but these are instantly recognizable for either their hail-fellow-well-met boosterism or their atrocious abuse of what can only be called a rudimentary knowledge of English.
Here’s an example from one such “review” that somehow manages both:
“Online best Australian live dealer casinos have many things in common and they roulette certain unique features online well.”
But for every dozen of those (alas, they do outnumber the good ones), there are at least one or two sites that will offer you an honest opinion and verifiable facts about online casinos.
Bear in mind one last point as you read each review: The Internet is forever. Some reviews might have been true when they were written, but a lot can change over the years.
The Paragraph Down Under (The Rest of the Article)
See what we did there? Get it? We’re hep in a totally Strine way, mate! Koala!
Seriously, there are a great many online casinos that lack blueblood pedigrees and yet are honest, reliable, professional, and efficient. And many of those are eager to prove their worth to the discerning Australian. We’ve put together a list of our top picks for you back at the beginning of this article.
Now that you’re armed with the knowledge of the Australian online casino world, you are more than ready to take a look, make your selections, and place your bets.