Gambling in Australia
Australians love a punt and new research shows that they wager more, and lose more, than people any other country in the world. But some people say this is just because we have the most opportunity to gamble, given the huge numbers of venues that provide some form of gambling. The 2010 Productivity Commission’s Inquiry into Gambling found that there are as many as 6,807 hotels, pubs and clubs providing gaming in Australia. There are at least 4700 lottery outlets. And there are 13 casinos with more being planned.
According to 2014 statistics Tabcorp Limited offers totalisator and fixed odds betting on racing and sporting events in approximately 2,800 TAB retail outlets in agencies, hotels, clubs, as well as on-course in Victoria and New South Wales, and via internet, mobile devices, phone and pay TV. Sky Racing also owned by Tabcorp, is available in approximately 2.6 million homes and 5,400 commercial outlets in Australia, covering 90,000 races per annum. There are approximately 3,600 Keno outlets in Victoria, New South Wales and Queensland, and approximately 6,200 Keno terminals.
Gambling is among the most popular ways of entertainment in Australia, with over 80% of the adult population admitting to having engaged in some kind of gambling. While this is the highest rate in the world and would call for strict regulation in most parts of the globe, the regulation of gambling in the country is subordinated to fairly liberal laws. Several licensed physical casinos are currently operating in Australia, which has legalized poker, too. The pubs, clubs, and bars in the region also offer a great variety of electronic gaming machines (EGMs). These slot machines are called “pokies” and are among the most popular forms of gambling along with lottery games.
Sports betting is also regulated in the country, with betting shops known as TAB (Totalisator Agency Board) where tote wagers and fixed odds bets can be placed. A total of about 3,000 retail Totalisator Agency Board outlets can be found in various locations. Operating since 1961, the government-owned TAB shops have been privatized and in 2015, nearly half of them (those located in Queensland, South Australia, Northern Territory and Tasmania) were modernized and re-branded as UBET shops. Similarly to nearly everywhere around the world, Bingo is also very popular. There are also little over a dozen land-based casinos regulated under the Casino Control Act of 2006.
These are not the only opportunities for people who are interested in gambling. Australia has also legalized online gambling, even though the government of the country has imposed a number of restrictions with the passing of the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) of 2001. The restrictions, however, are related to online gambling operators rather than to players. Engaging in online gambling activities is not an offense and players are not even charged with taxes on their winnings, as gambling is considered a recreational activity and a hobby instead of a profession.
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Gambling Regulation in Australia
Currently, gambling regulation in Australia is processed at two levels. As mentioned before, the first level is the central government, which plays an important part – the Commonwealth functions as a regulator of gambling activities (one with limited jurisdiction) and as the legislature that passes and amends the laws that govern the industry.
On the other hand, regulation of gambling is primarily carried out at state and territory level and is under the jurisdiction of several regional authorities. Moreover, legislation relating to the industry depends largely on regionally passed acts and rulings. Specially appointed ministers at each regional government are responsible for the legislation and policy, while government authorities act as independent regulators in charge of supervision and enforcement of laws.
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