As BonusBlackjack.org gets a lot of traffic from Australia, we created this page for our friends down under who have an interest in blackjack and online gambling. If you’re keen to get to the blackjack tables right away, in the table below, we’ve listed out the top 10 Aussie sites that cater for blackjack players in Oz. To read about the current laws and regulations regarding gambling in Australia, then read further down the page.
Australian Online Gambling: What you need to know
The growth of online poker over the past decade has turned what was once a strictly American dominated game into a truly global game, with players from the US battling it out against players from around the globe including the UK, Australia, Asia, and Europe. In this article I will focus on Australian online poker laws, examining their current regulations, tax laws, and trends that will determine the future of online poker in the land down under. If you would like to read about U.S regulation, check out our USA blackjack guide.
Online Poker Legality and Regulations for Australia
The only law on the books in Australia is the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) which passed in 2001. The IGA states that it is unlawful to provide interactive gambling (online poker would fall into this category) to any Australian resident. However, and more importantly, it does not make playing online poker (or competing in other interactive gambling) a crime and Australian residents who participate in online poker games can do so with no fear of consequence.
Oddly, it is legal to place online wagers on sporting events in Australia, and the government licenses several well known sports-books like CentreBet and BetFair.
Australian laws are similar to the US, but are much more lax in both enforcement and in regards to the individual participating as opposed to the person/entity offering the game. To date no online poker provider has been charged with any crime in Australia.
Fortunately, online poker players in Australia have many more funding and withdrawal options than US players, since the legislation doesn’t trickle down to financial institutions who process online gaming transactions.
Current Climate in Australia
The current climate in Australia is a bit difficult to read; with a number of measures taken to curtail pornography in Australia it wouldn’t be unheard of for this outrage to shift to online gambling –most notably among the pornography crackdown was the comical assertion that pornography with small breasted women leads to pedophilia and should be banned, and the legislation that allows Australian authorities to search laptops coming into the country for pornography.
Hopefully in the future Australian law starts to shift more towards the UK’s and farther away from the US –at the moment I would say that Australia fits neatly in between these two countries in terms of online poker-friendly legislation.
Pending Online Poker Legislation in Australia
At the moment there is no pending legislation in Australia that would change the IGA of 2001. Australia has made attempts to shut down certain domain names that so much as link to an online poker site in the past, but these attempts have all come up short.
Australian Tax Laws Regarding Online Poker
Australian poker players are in a bit of gray area when it comes to taxes. Basically, as long as your online poker winnings do not constitute the majority of your income you do not have to pay taxes on your winnings. The reason is that the Australian government considers poker a game of luck –gambling—and to tax winnings would open up a can of worms that would cross over into other gambling winnings. Much like the UK’s take on taxing poker winnings Australia has come to the conclusion that it’s better to just let the sleeping dog lie.
On the other hand, if the Australian Tax Office (ATO) can prove that poker is more than a hobby for you than your poker winnings will be taxable income.
One interesting case involved Joe Hachem and his 2005 WSOP win. Hachem was able to convince the courts that his win was from a “hobby” and therefore not taxable –a case he won by the way. At the time Hachem was employed as a mortgage broker, and therefore did not have “professional” attached to his poker playing—despite being a KNOWN poker pro. This was especially helpful to Hachem since the US government took their 30% of his winnings.
Hachem’s brother Tony also has had his issues with the ATO: In 2009 his home was raided by tax authorities. So my advice to Aussie poker players is to keep meticulous records of your winnings, and if you’re unsure of your professional status you should speak to an accountant; better to be overly cautious then end up like Tony Hachem, with armed tax officers raiding your home over 5 year-old tax records.
More Australian Gambling Resources
The history of internet gambling in Australia is quite extensive as Aussies love to have a bet now and then whether it be down the local pokies or betting on a horse at the Melbourne Cup online. For further reading on Aussie gambling law, check out the resources below that go into greater detail about the legal nuances of online gaming.
- Official site discussing the Interactive Gambling Act 2001
- Read more about Gambling policy and regulation in Australia