Interactive Gambling Act 2001: What it Means for Aussie Online Casino Players in 2024

The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) is a federal law passed by the Australian Government in June 2001 to set online casinos as illegal. It only achieved this through the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2017. The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ACMA) has been responsible for blocking illegal online gambling service providers from reaching Aussie players.

This guide explains the act’s purpose and how it has worked so far for players and gambling companies alike. In a nutshell, online casinos are illegal Down Under, including those operating offshore. Players are not breaking the law by accessing gambling sites, yet ACMA enforces ISP blocks and warnings to stop their operations.

What is the Interactive Gambling Act 2001?

The IGA 2001 is a piece of legislation setting the ground rules for companies providing online gambling services through a site or app. The main purpose of the bill was to ban the following online gambling services:

  • Online casinos
  • Live sports bets
  • Sports betting services from companies without an Australian license
  • Lottery betting
  • Advertisement on the above services

More recent additions include the promotion of gambling with credit online. Anyone can submit a complaint to report companies breaking the rules set by the IGA 2001.

Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2017

The Interactive Act 2001 didn’t achieve its original purpose because it failed to clarify whether offshore gambling companies licensed by outside entities were subject to the restrictions set out. As such, large companies like PokerStars, 888Casino, and the like continued to accept players from Australia.

The following changes applied to the act in 2017 were set to change the gambling landscape in Australia through the following:

  • Licensed sports betting sites in Australia were made public through an official register.
  • The Government blocked companies offering credit for online gambling to Aussies.
  • The Government assigned new powers to ACMA so that it can efficiently target gambling providers ignoring Aussie gambling laws. I will explain these in the following sections.
  • The Government could now refer companies breaking the law to the Australian Border Force.

The clarification regarding offshore online casino companies resulted in over 200 gaming sites exiting Australia in the same year. Reports that followed also indicated that Australians have been losing less and less money in online gambling, suggesting that fewer people are engaging with offshore online casinos still operating Down Under.

Changes to the Act in 2019 – BetStop

Honestly, the changes brought by the 2019 amendment to the IGA perplexed me. So, BetStop was introduced, a body enabling Australians to register and receive an instant block from the associated betting sites. Different timeframes and limitations can be selected through this service.

What is strange is that BetStop is a service collaborating with recognised betting sites only, meaning licensed Aussie sportsbooks. A similar service exists in the UK, and it has unfortunately resulted in not on GamStop casinos and gambling on unlicensed venues.

What happens is people sign-up for a block from all legal betting sites, and then end up signing up to gamble at offshore, illegal operators offering little to no protection. As such, in my view, although services like BetStop make sense, they often lead players to unregulated gambling sites.

The Role of ACMA

ACMA has been responsible for enforcing the rules set out by the IGA 2001 and the following amendments. This mainly includes taking action against online gambling websites offering casino games, sports betting, or similar to Australians without a local license. How it sets out to achieve this is explained below:

  • ACMA may give a formal or infringement notice to operators breaking the Australian gambling rules
  • The body can report the company to the police, the DPP, or the border protection agency. The latter can block the offenders’ movement to and from Australia.
  • Most importantly, ACMA can request an internet service provider (ISP) block.

Companies or individuals breaking the law may receive civil penalties or face criminal charges. The daily fines can be as high as $2,347,500 for individuals and $11,737,500 for corporations.

Some of the blocked gambling sites so far include:

Implications for Australian Players

Players accessing or using online gambling services in Australia haven’t received any fines or penalties. At least no such case has been reported. Although we cannot guarantee that it won’t happen in the future, it seems unlikely. The IGA and the authority enforcing it have been tasked with protecting Australian citizens from online gambling by punishing gambling providers breaking the law.

Having said that, players aren’t provided with a way of recognising safe online casinos. ACMA treats all gambling sites as illegal, which technically they are Down Under, yet some are licensed in other countries and have been serving players worldwide with top-notch games and state-of-the-art features.

Sites like Pokies.bet have taken on the role of independently reviewing and assessing online casinos so that the average Aussie player can learn more about their games, bonuses, company, banking methods, and practices. We are not aligned with any specific operator and our review process ensures every operator is assessed against the same criteria. You can consult us for an unbiased opinion on online casinos, submit a complaint, and review our blacklist of operators who are not recommended.

Note: Companies advertising online gambling operators are not exactly legal, as well. However, some sites, including ours, take their job seriously and strive to protect Aussie players who gamble online despite the IGA 2001 implications. We are here for your protection, not to advertise gambling sites.

Implications for Online Casinos

Online casinos have been truly affected by the new powers passed down to ACMA since the IGA 2017 updates. The authority mainly sends formal warnings, though the majority of reputable sites left the market instantly after the Australian Government clarified its stance against offshore operators.

On the other hand, offshore gambling companies operating in grey markets like Australia aren’t really subject to the fines issued by the country, nor do they care about any reputational damage. The main weapon of ACMA is requesting ISP blocks. This means that operators won’t be visible on Google, Bing, etc. and therefore inaccessible to players. Still, they have found a way to circumvent this measure too – they launch a new domain under a similar URL, for instance, thepokies.net is now thepokies87.net. 87 represents the number of times ACMA has blocked this online casino.

Unfortunately, cracking down on thousands of online casinos is impossible, and treating all of them as equal is unfair. Aussie players still gamble, yet they don’t have proper guidance from their government.

New Gambling Laws in Australia

In Australia, every state is responsible for regulating online gambling activities within the parameters set by the Federal Government. The IGA 2001 takes precedence and sets online casinos as illegal throughout the country.

On the other hand, every state has set a local gaming authority in place to assign licenses and regulate legal gambling activities such as casino hotels, sports betting providers, keno, horse racing, bingo, etc.

You can learn more about the latest bills in each Aussie state through the following links:

Are Online Casinos Legal in Australia? The Verdict

As I explained throughout this guide, online casinos are illegal in Australia according to the IGA 2001. ACMA has been unsuccessfully striving to block offshore casino sites from taking Aussie bets. Companies like ours work around the clock to offer Aussie gamblers some sort of guidance when selecting operators.

The latest changes in the Aussie gambling landscape relate to BetStop, a helpful body that is likely to result in more players gambling at offshore online casinos. On the other hand, each state has the right to pick and choose how it will regulate other gaming activities and sets the parameters they must follow.

Before closing, I want to mention that, in my books, at least, regulated gambling markets like the US, the UK, and the Philippines ensure players know where to gamble legally and safely while also taking a cut of the gambling operators’ revenues. Grey, or illegal, markets like Australia, New Zealand, and India harm their bottom lines and leave players unprotected.

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