The gambling laws in Australia are not standard across the country, and much like in the United States they change depending on where you are. In each individual state there are regulators and regulations that govern the way gambling is controlled. In Tasmania there are fewer regulations than there are elsewhere, because whilst as many as 14 laws dictate how gambling companies operate in New South Wales, with 11 in Victoria and Queensland, there are only 2 in Tasmania.
These two laws are the Gaming Control Act of 1993 and the TT-Line Gaming Act of 1993. However, there is also the Interactive Gaming Act of 2001, which controls the online gambling industry in all of Australia. So, just what do these laws mean for citizens of Tasmania and for those seeking to establish gambling operations here?
In Tasmania, all offline gambling, and indeed all alcohol licenses, are handled by the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission. If you want a license to develop a casino or even to install pokies, then you need to go through these guys first. These things are relatively easy to apply for though, and you can even do it on their website. There are many different types of license, but due to a statement in The Gaming Control Act of 1993, there are no licenses for poker of any kind. It seems strange that they have singled this game out, especially considering that poker is a game of skill and one that causes significantly less damage than the pokies that are widely available in Tasmania, but few laws ever make sense.
Keno and pokies are the most popular method of gambling in this region and providing that the premises in which they are included has the correct license then these are perfectly legal. The same goes for lotteries, and those operating lotteries outside of Tasmania and looking to sell tickets to residents of this region can also apply for what is known as a Foreign Games Permit.
Simple enough, right? Well, not quite. These laws are typically convoluted and bureaucratic, which means that simplicity is never the aim of the game. Firstly, there are some grey areas, concerning things like poker but also a handful of other games, meaning that skill based games and those that are far less detrimental than pokies may still be rejected by the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission. What’s more, these licenses are not free, because not only do the local authorities want to generate a lot of tax income via the machines that they grant licenses to, but they also want you to pay for the privilege of installing these on your premise. Both the application and renewal for a keno game will cost more than $500, and this is one of the cheapest things in the entire system. An annual license for keno costs twice as much as this, whilst a Tasmanian gaming license will set you back a cool $45,000.
The Interactive Gaming Act of 2001 governs online gambling in Tasmania and in all of Australia. This is not a straight-forward law and it can be a little confusing, so bear with us. Firstly, the law makes all “interactive” gambling illegal, which made a lot of sense in 2001 when it was created. After all, it allowed sports betting to slip through the net, but it put a stop to online pokies and online casinos in general, whilst also limiting poker rooms. That’s what the government wanted, but times changed and things became a little more complicated.
With the introduction of live or “in-play” betting, sportsbooks suddenly became interactive and therefore went against the law. This is why Australian bookmakers are not allowed to offer in-play betting, and why they have therefore lagged someway behind their rivals. There is also a statement in the Interactive Gaming Act of 2001 that declares that Australian bookmakers are not allowed to advertise their services to Australian residents, effectively limiting the effectiveness of their businesses without banning them altogether. Of course, the Australian government wouldn’t want to ban them, as that would be an incredibly hypocritical thing to do when you consider how widely available pokies and other forms of offline gambling are across the entire country.
The laws imposed on Australian gambling companies do not apply to online casinos or sportsbooks based overseas. There are still some limitations placed on some of these, but the vast majority of them operate without regard for the Interactive Gaming Act of 2001 or any other laws in Australia, abiding only by the laws of the country in which they reside. This is why sportsbooks like BetFair, online casinos like Royal Vegas Casino and poker rooms like Pokerstars not only appeal to Australian players, but actually have a lot of them on their books.