Is Online Poker Legal in Australia?

Australians are the most prolific gamblers globally, mostly playing poker and pokies machines. This makes the question of whether online poker is legal in Australia a quite an important topic to address.

While our love of online pokies is at the forefront of what we do at Pokies.bet, online poker is within our expertise. Gamblers in QLD, NSW, Tasmania, Victoria, and elsewhere in Australia can find information on the legal aspects of Australian online poker, sites to play for real money, and more right here.

Before we cover each area in detail, here are some key takeaways regarding legal online poker Down Under:

  • The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 makes it illegal for gambling providers to offer non-skill and unregulated sports betting services in Australia. Online poker is not classed as a skill game and therefore is considered illegal to play online.
  • The IGA did not explicitly state whether offshore gambling sites could provide online poker and casino games to Australians, leaving the door open for top-notch poker platforms to offer their services to Australians. This changed with amendments passed in 2017 in relation to the bill.
  • Poker sites like 888 Poker, PartyPoker, WSOP, and Poker Stars stopped operating in Australia as a result of this.
  • Currently, online poker is illegal across Australia. The Australian Broadcasting Authority (ACMA) is responsible for stopping offshore gambling sites from offering online poker services to Australians. They mainly do it using the Telecommunications Act of 1997, allowing them to block websites from service providers like Google.
  • Still, offshore poker services largely operate in Australia and have found easy ways to avoid penalties and operate without any issues. Some prominent poker sites currently available include Ignition Poker, BitStarz Poker, Get Slots Poker, and 7Signs Poker.
  • The good news for Australians looking to play online poker is that the ACMA and IGA do not target them. Instead, Australian anti-gambling laws are enforced against operators.

The above should provide a quick overview and the answer as to whether online poker is legal in Australia and how you can play online poker from home.

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Below, we expand on these areas in detail.

Interactive Gambling Act Implications on Online Poker

Australia is one of the countries where online gambling is not regulated or legal. That wasn’t the case in the 1990s when Aussies enjoyed the same privileges as players in the US, UK, and Europe.

The government decided to pass anti-gambling laws to protect Australians from overspending due to easy access to online casino games. Other reasons were to safeguard the profits of land-based casinos and poker rooms in Australia.

Changes came in 2001 when the government passed The Interactive Gambling Act. This bill made all interactive gambling activities illegal and included online poker, pokies, and table games. Lottery, sports betting, and other services could still be regulated according to Australian state laws.

However, the language used in the IGA wasn’t straightforward, leaving room for offshore gambling sites and poker platforms to continue offering their services to Australians for 15 more years. The Australian government didn’t take any measures to stop this from happening, and poker sites like 888Poker, PokerStars, PartyPoker, WSOP, and other big brands continued to operate freely.

The situation changed in 2016 when a new bill would add amendments to the IGA and help the 2001 law be enforced properly. After long debates and legal battles, the amendments were passed in 2017. Then, all globally-renowned online poker sites left our island to avoid lawsuits and paying fees.

The situation remains the same today, without any plans to start regulating Australian online casinos and poker sites despite other countries moving to this model. Recent examples include the US and Ontario, Canada.

IGA Enforcements and the Role of ACMA

ACMA is the main force against online poker sites still operating Down Under. Based on the IGA, online casino owners and associated companies of online poker rooms still accepting Australians are subject to serious fines and legal action.

In reality, ACMA mainly sends emails threatening legal action against offshore online casinos, but these rarely disclose their real headquarters or operating companies. As such, nothing can stop them.

Or at least so it appeared. Late in 2019, ACMA started enforcing the legal powers provided by the Telecommunications Act 1997. With this, they could force service providers like Google and Bing from listing blacklisted online casino sites to Australian IPs.

This has been very effective, although offshore gambling sites get around it by migrating their operations to a new domain. In short, it’s a catch-22 scenario. The latest measure taken by the broadcasting authority in 2021 is targeting advertisers, meaning gambling sites that promote online poker and casino operators, in the same way.

For Australian players using VPN to gamble online or simply joining poker sites that accept them, the law doesn’t pose any dangers. No fees or penalties have ever been imposed on users. Still, the situation is not all rosy, as we highlight below.

What the Current Laws mean for Australian Poker Players

As a player, nothing is stopping you from joining an online poker site from Australia. Several offshore poker sites accept Australians who are over 18 years old and let you create an account in seconds. Massive poker bonuses are handed out, and you can bank easily and play your favourite poker games.

However, the latest amendments to the IGA have forced legit poker sites with state-of-the-art poker software and a huge player base to leave this market for good. The brands that made online poker popular in the first place are not currently open to Australians.

Instead, players can join unlicensed online casinos and poker sites licensed by the Government of Curacao and risk getting fined for still accepting Aussies. They don’t have much to lose, though, since they are mainly small brands without ties to legit companies.

That’s not to say you won’t be able to find a good poker site with both video and live poker rooms, because you can. However, users must be experts or trust expert sites like ours to select an operator to play poker real money in Australia. That’s due to the lack of official regulation on these platforms and Australian licensing bodies.

Online Poker Sites that Stopped Operations in Australia

If you are trying to join a site and get a message saying you cannot access our casino from your county, it means that it has pulled out of this market. Some notable legal poker sites that left the market in 2018 include:

  • 888 Poker Australia
  • PokerStars Australia
  • WSOP
  • America’s Cardroom
  • PartyPoker Australia
  • Global Poker
  • The Winning Poker Network
  • Bovada Poker
  • Queen Vegas Online Poker
  • Full Tilt Poker

These platforms are huge and operate in regulated markets thanks to licenses from certain US states, the UKGC, MGA, Ontario Gaming Commission, etc. They wouldn’t risk paying millions in fines to offer poker games to Australians when the IGA explicitly made them illegal Down Under.

Online Poker Sites Accepting Australians

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Unfortunately, the quality poker software provided by the previously mentioned operators is not easy to pull through. Small offshore gambling sites cannot match the experience and development of massive poker platforms and their teams, and therefore you won’t be able to enjoy the same poker playing experience today.

That’s not to say you won’t have a huge range of online poker machines, live dealer poker games, and poker bonuses to try out. The following Australian poker sites are slowly filling the void and becoming household names Down Under. They accept players from Australia and are rated as the best online casinos in terms of payouts, customer support, security, and safety.

BitStarz Online Poker

BitStarz is the number 1 offshore online casino site worldwide, often racking up iGaming awards for its services. It is the online casino that popularized crypto casino deposits and payouts, launching in 2014 under the management of Direx N.V., and now Dama N.V.

New BitStarz poker players can sign-up from any Australian state make a deposit of $10 or more, and get a match bonus of up to 5 BTC. If you don’t mind pokies, you can also take advantage of the BitStarz no deposit free spins bonus.

You won’t find live poker tournaments at BitStarz. Instead, you will find over 50 video poker variants like Oasis Poker, Texas Hold’em, 3 Card Poker, Caribbean Stud Poker, Joker Poker, and more. On top of this, BitStarz Casino games powered by Evolution let you play online poker with friends, with the tables facilitated by a live croupier. You won’t be competing with friends, but against the house. However, the poker experience in live casino games feels the closest to poker tournaments.

Get Slots Online Poker

Get Slots is a household name Down Under. The Curacao-licensed online casino is powered by 20+ iGaming developers, including Betsoft, Lucky Streak, Yggdrasil, and Platipus. As a result, the Get Slots Poker lobby is rich.

Like with BitStarz, you won’t find poker tournaments and cash poker table games here. You will instead find a selection of video poker and live poker games. Live Ultimate Texas Hold’em, 3 Card Poker, Omaha Poker, and Jacks or Better, to name a few.

All games are accessible online or via mobile devices at Get Slots Poker. Sign-up through this page today and you can redeem three welcome bonuses – 100%, 75%, and 100%, respectively. The total poker bonus can reach $750.

Ignition Poker

Ignition Poker is a site operating from Latin America and accepts players from the US, Australia, Canada, and other jurisdictions. It’s licensed in Panama and isn’t therefore subject to Australian laws or in danger of getting permanently banned.

It is rated as one of the five best poker sites globally, offering players a massive range of cash tournaments, sit’n’gos, satellite tournaments, video poker games, head-to-head poker rooms, and more. If you want to play online poker with friends from Australia, Ignition should be at the top of your list.

Video poker games are also available at Ignition Poker. While you won’t find a Strip Poker variant, 3 Card Poker, Texas Hold’em, and other poker machines are at your disposal.

All games are accessible online or via mobile browsers instantly. New players can receive a 100% match bonus to begin playing poker no download for free!

How to find a legit online poker site to play from Australia

The real challenge isn’t finding an online poker site that accepts Australian players – but finding a legit one. Offshore casinos are associated with delayed or non-payouts, rigged games, and shutting down without prior notice. Unfortunately, the majority of online poker sites in Australia are flagged as non-recommended because of one or more of the above.

Finding a good online poker platform takes time, expertise, and knowledge of the industry. Our team has reviewed all online casinos operating in Australia, assessing each based on several criteria. You can pick the listed operators and claim your poker welcome bonus, play your favourite games, and cash out without any problems. These are selected because they tick the following boxes:

  • Licensed Poker Sites – all listed operators hold a license from an offshore iGaming authority.
  • Massive Range of Video and Live Poker Games – you won’t be limited to one or two poker games with these brands; you’ll find a massive variety of games with unique rules and RTPs exceeding 99%.
  • Good Reddit and Player Reviews – while we enforce our own rating criteria, these poker sites are also reviewed by real players. We have checked their testimonials on Reddit, Telegram, Facebook, and other public forums to see if they have mistreated punters.
  • Variety of Banking Methods and Fast Payouts – you won’t just find PayPal, Cash App, PayID, Neosurf, and other flexible payment options to play poker online on these platforms. You will also be able to deposit from a low minimum threshold and withdraw your winnings fast.
  • Excellent Poker Bonuses – make a $10 or higher minimum deposit and you’ll be awarded twice your money or more in bonuses to play poker for real money at these sites.
  • Instant Play Poker on Any Device – all listed brands support instant play poker games across all devices and browsers. You won’t be asked to install apps or download software to play poker with your friends.

Generic criteria like safety, security, customer support, interface, design, and promotions for existing users are also considered during our poker reviews. Needless to say, you cannot go wrong with any site we recommend for online poker.

How to Play Online Poker in Australia

With the legal aspects surrounding poker in Australia out of the way, playing poker online is a piece of cake.

  1. First, you must choose one operator from this list. Use our banners to sign-up to qualify for their welcome bonuses.
  2. Register your account by accurately providing the required details. You need to be 18+ and located in Australia or one of their legal jurisdictions to play poker at these casinos.
  3. Verify your account via the email link and by providing the information asked for the KYC process. This is essential to make your first poker withdrawal without delays.
  4. Choose a banking option and make your first deposit. Enter any poker bonus code, if we provide one, to unlock the welcome offer.
  5. Visit the poker lobby and choose your game. Tap on the play button and it will launch instantly. Read the rules and bet according to your budget and financial situation.
  6. Withdrawing poker winnings is as simple as making your deposit. At least if you have completed the above steps carefully.

In terms of what poker games you will be playing, it can vary based on your selected operator. Your options include:

  • Poker tournaments and tables with real players – available at Ignition Poker; here you will be playing poker games with real players. Ideal for skilled poker players.
  • Video poker – single or multi-hand poker variants where you play against the house. Perfect for fast-paced poker rounds with low house edge and variety in terms of variants and poker rules.
  • Live dealer poker – several poker games are offered at live casinos, where you play against the house. However, the action here is conducted by a live dealer, and several real players try to beat the house at once.  

Texas Holdem Poker Online, 3 Card Poker, Strip Poker, and Live Poker Hold’em are some popular games you will find online. Video poker games are also instantly playable without download for free on all listed platforms.

FAQ’s

How to play no download poker in Australia?

All poker sites listed on this page provide real money and free poker games instantly available online without the need to download any software or app.

What is the best poker site based on Reddit?

888 Poker and PokerStars closely compete for the title of the best poker site on Reddit. If you are looking for a top choice based on Redditors for Australia, Ignition Poker tops the list.

Can I play online poker in Australia?

Several offshore poker sites accept Australians. You can quickly sign-up, make a deposit, and play a range of poker games there. You won’t be in any legal danger doing so.

Why can’t you play poker online in Australia?

The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 and amendments passed in 2017 have made it clear that online casino games such as poker are illegal in Australia. Several operators still cater to this market, but they risk getting blocked or receiving fines from the Australian Broadcasting Authority.

Can you get in trouble for playing online poker?

While online poker operators can get fines or bans from Australia, players engaging with them do not face any legal trouble.

When will online poker be legal in Australia?

As things stand, there isn’t a clear path for the legalization of online poker and casino games in Australia. That’s despite several MPs and pressure groups advocating for the legalization of online pokies and interactive games Down Under.

Do I need to pay taxes for winning at online poker?

While professional poker players need to report their winnings to the ATO and pay taxes, casual casino and poker players do not need to pay any taxes for their winnings in Australia.

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