New online casinos accepting international players are popping up all the time and it is perfectly legal, for players in countries where online gambling is legal, to play at these licensed websites. While the laws surrounding online gambling are somewhat confusing in Australia, we’re here to clear it up.
To be clear, Australians can no longer legally play card games and other casino games online after September 2017. We discuss why below, so our Australian readership avoids any confusion.
Online gambling legislation
As of September 13, 2017, the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 comes into full effect, making it illegal for online casinos based offshore or in Australian waters to provide interactive gambling services to Australian residents without a license. Because there is no regulatory or licensing body which handles online casinos in Australia, this means it is currently illegal for all online casinos to cater to Aussies.
For Aussie players who were used to playing at international casino sites for years, which were licensed and regulated by the jurisdiction in which they are operating in, you must come to understand your previous online gambling options are no longer a reality. To make it a bit easier to understand, we have broken down the legislative changes for players as to how and why it is now illegal for Aussies to gamble online.
The Interactive Gambling Act 2001
In 2001, the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) was brought in by the Australian Government in order to protect online gamblers from irresponsible actions. Due to this legislation, many Australians believed it was not legal to gamble online. However, this regulatory framework actually made it illegal for online operators to advertise real money games to Aussie players, rather than making it illegal for Aussie players to gamble online.
In terms of playing card games online, prior to September 2017 Aussies could play blackjack, poker, baccarat and more games legally provided by online casino operating and licensed in foreign jurisdictions such as Malta and the United Kingdom. While it was technically illegal to advertise and market interactive gambling to Australians, since Australian law cannot override the laws of other jurisdictions, it was therefore legal for online users to access all of their promotions marketed to them.
This meant Aussie players could play legally and access sign up bonuses legally if they are offshore, unlike some players who access promotions from bookmakers which operate in Australia. For example, NSW residents cannot access the sign up bonuses offered at bookmakers which operate in Australia (it is legal for Aussie bookmakers to operate in Australia) due to State law overriding the IGA. If you are a bit confused then this can further be explained by the fact the IGA also doesn’t override any State and Territory laws in Australia, they override the IGA.
While state laws have tackled sports betting, with online gambling, regardless of where players reside in Australia, anyone who plays online casino games at a website based in international waters are not doing anything wrong – but the new legislative changes introduced in September 2017 make it illegal for overseas online casino operators to cater to Australians like they once did for years.
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016
With the new IGA amendment legislation in full effect after September 2017, online casino sites are prohibited from advertising and offering their real money gambling services to Australian residents, regardless if they are based offshore or in Australian waters, “unless the person holds a licence under the law of an Australian state or territory.” As mentioned earlier, there is no regulatory body which licenses online casinos in the country, so there is basically no more online baccarat, blackjack, poker and other card games legally available for Aussies.
While the new amendments to the existing IGA target operators rather than players, it is currently unclear how the Australian government will handle Aussie players found playing at offshore casino sites. We recommend Australians stick to land-based casinos for their real money card game fix.
For sites like AustralianCardGames.com.au, the new laws make it so that we can no longer give Australians advice on where to play for real money online, or reviews of the latest sites. Our content will continue to be comprised of highly-detailed strategy guides, quirky editorials and odds breakdowns for Aussies who love to play card games socially and at home.
State regulated gaming bodies for land-based casinos
Each land-based casino operates within their State or Territory guidelines. So while it is legal for Aussie players to go and play their favourite card games at a brick and mortar casino, there can be conditions due to the State or territory legislation. For example, Jupiters Casino in Queensland have a contract with the Queensland government that they can offer all the popular casino games provided they adhere to certain restrictions, such as not operating an online website.
Additionally, if Jupiters want to put in more table games for new card titles, for example, they need to have it approved by the Queensland government before they can do so as they have certain restrictions in association to the number of tables they can offer. Basically, the law is important for operators both online and offline as they are responsible for ensuring proper gambling behaviour, but it is important players aren’t aiding irresponsible gaming too and the best way to do this is by playing at regulated legal offshore online casinos for Aussies.
Do offshore laws protect online players?
The offshore casinos we recommend for international players at AustralianCardGames are all based in foreign waters and adhere to the strict regulations placed on them by the country that licences them. For instance, Royal Vegas Casino is based in Malta, which boasts one of the most respected gaming licences in the world.
Players have to be careful when picking an online casino to play at since they are located overseas and there isn’t any help here if something goes wrong. Regulated online casinos are governed by third party organisations and have gaming licenses from gaming jurisdictions which offer a sense of protection to foreign players.
Some third party organisations, like eCOGRA offer a helping hand if something does go wrong while you’re gambling at an online casinos. For example, if an issue arises and you’ve contacted the offshore online casino without any resolution you can contact eCOGRA, provided they regulate the online casino, raise your concerns and eCOGRA will act as a voice for you since you are located in foreign waters. So while there aren’t any local laws to help you, if you choose a safe and secure online casino regulated by third party organisations, such as the many we recommend, you can be sure you will be protected when playing card games at offshore online casinos.
Is it legal to make a deposit at international online casinos?
In order to play poker, Texas Hold’em, or any of the other card games with real money you are going to have to make a deposit. International online casinos cater in terms of payment methods, including Visa and MasterCard, and e-wallets which many players use to online shop; as well as offering your local currency to be selected.