The Interactive Gambling Act 2001
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 (IGA) if it's provided to someone who is physically in Australia.
Under the IGA, it is an offence to:
- provide a prohibited interactive gambling service to customers in Australia;
- provide an unlicensed regulated interactive gambling service to customers in Australia; and
- provide an Australian-based interactive gambling service to customers in designated countries.
These offences apply to all interactive gambling providers, based in Australia or offshore, and Australian or foreign owned.
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.
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, there is little recourse for Australian customers.
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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.
Online gambling complaints
If you believe a prohibited gambling activity is being offered or advertised over the internet to people in Australia, you can complain to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) using their online complaint form.
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.