Many Australians engage in some form of betting or gambling activity, whether it’s making a bet on the outcome of the next international rugby fixture through a bookmaker or placing an online wager on where the virtual roulette ball will land next. The gambling and betting industry in Australia is a dynamic yet robust one that continues to grow year on year with no end in sight. With a multi-billion dollar industry such as this one, it makes one wonder where it all started.
Early Roots: Playing Cards and Horse Racing
Betting and gambling on the outcome of games of chance first made its debut to the shores of Australia with the arrival of settlers. There are historic reports dating back to the late 1700s that mention Aboriginal communities first being introduced to playing cards by Macassan traders. Traditional playing card games grew in popularity during the late nineteenth and early twentieth century.
While everyone loves a good game of cards, you might be surprised to find out that it was a horse racing event in New South Wales that holds the title of Australia’s first official betting event. Australia’s first official horse racing meeting was held in Hyde Park in 1810. The first official lottery took place seven decades later in 1881 at the Sydney Cup.
The Bright Lights of Pokies Machines and Casinos
If you’re wondering when pokies made their notable introduction to Australia’s betting and gaming landscape- well, they only started appearing in the first registered clubs and pubs during the 1950’s. The New South Wales Gambling and Betting Bill was formally introduced in 1956, which saw the first batch of registered establishments who were allowed to legally operate poker machines on their premises.
1973 saw the first legal casino open its doors to patrons in Sandy Bay, Tasmania. The Wrest Point Hotel Casino was a first for Australia and licences for additional casinos across the country where soon grated in the years that followed.
Online Gambling: Australia’s Digital Landscape
With the advancement of modern technology and the adoption of a more digitally-driven lifestyle, more and more Aussies are taking to the internet to play their favourite casino games or make an online sports bet. Australians harbour a deep affection for playing pokies and this is reflected in the growing trend of playing the very best selection of online pokies. Online gaming doesn’t only revolve around the spinning reels of pokies but includes traditional casino table games such as roulette, blackjack and poker.
If you, like most people, hold dear a sequence of lucky numbers, you’ll be happy to know that you can play them in keno and lotto draws that now predominantly take place online.
In response to the growth of the online gambling industry, Australia’s government passed the Interactive Gaming Act (IGA) in 2001 in an effort to regulate and control this emerging industry. Although the IGA does not criminalise players who engage in online gambling, it does prohibit Australian Online greyhound bets from advertising “real money” interactive gambling services to Australian residents.
Under the terms of the IGA, online sports betting is legal and prohibited through licenced operators, provided that any wagers placed are made at the start of the sports betting event. Live “in-play” betting, however, is strictly off limits for Aussies in terms of the rules outlined in the IGA.