It’s illegal to provide some interactive gambling activities, such as 'online casinos', to someone in Australia. Examples include roulette, poker, craps, online 'pokies' and blackjack. Any game of chance, including games of mixed chance and skill played over the internet, is prohibited under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 if it’s provided to someone who is physically in Australia.
The Act aims to limit the harmful effects of gambling on the Australian community. It targets the providers of interactive gambling, not their potential or actual customers.
This offence applies to all interactive gambling providers, whether based in Australia or offshore, whether Australian or foreign owned.
This offence carries a maximum penalty of $340 000 per day for individuals and $1.7 million per day for bodies corporate.
Internet service providers (ISPs) follow The Interactive Gambling Industry Code in dealing with online gambling hosted outside Australia. It includes a provision for ISPs to provide one of the approved filters listed in Schedule 1 of the Code.
Customers should be aware that if they gamble using illegal services, they run a high risk of losing their money. These services sometimes refuse to return deposits or pay winnings to the customer. As the services are operating illegally in Australia, there is little recourse for Australian customers.
Online gambling complaints
If you believe a prohibited gambling activity is being offered over the internet to people in Australia, you can complain to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) using their online complaint form.
If the content is prohibited, the ACMA can:
refer the complaint to the Australian Federal Police if it’s hosted in Australia
notify the makers of internet content filter software if it’s hosted outside Australia.
It’s illegal to advertise interactive online gambling
It’s generally illegal to advertise interactive online gambling to Australian audiences.
The prohibition is established under Part 7A of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. It applies to all forms of media, both electronic and non-electronic, including advertising over the internet, broadcast services, print media, billboards and hoardings. It means that websites designed for a specifically Australian audience will not be able to carry interactive gambling advertisements.
There are exceptions, including political advertising, incidental or accidental advertising, and advertising in imported print publications or websites that are not aimed specifically at an Australian audience.
Internet service providers are generally protected by the Criminal Code from liability for third-party content that is innocently transmitted over their networks. In other words, an internet service provider or other third party can only be guilty of the offence if it knowingly or recklessly transmits the advertisement.
This is provided for by section 5.6 of the Criminal Code, which now applies to most Commonwealth legislation with criminal offences. The advertising ban in Part 7A of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 is broadly based on the Tobacco Advertising Prohibition Act 1992.
Reports on breaches of the gambling advertising rules
The Minister publishes a report of the number and nature of contraventions of the prohibition on interactive gambling advertisements and on any action taken by the Minister or Commonwealth agency in response to each contravention.
2013 Report—The operation of the prohibition of advertisements of Interactive Gambling Services under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001