Online casinos are officially banned in Australia as of August 2017, although the money being pumped into offshore gambling sites still reaches well into the 10s of millions of dollars every year. Online casino sites servicing Australia are now licensed in places like Curacao and Costa Rica, a long way from the gambling sites that used to service this country, which included those ticked off by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission and the Malta Gaming Authority.
The updated Interactive Gambling Act addressed the grey area that was online gambling and made it illegal to market online casinos and poker products to Australians. This was what lead to the withdrawal of many of the biggest gambling operators in the world, including LeoVegas.com and Guts.com.
Gone are the days where you had to get dressed up and head out to a land based casino to try your luck on the blackjack, roulette or poker tables, or throw a few dollars into the pokies. Online casinos have become widespread, allowing punters to place real money bets on their favourite table, number, slot and scratchie games from the comfort of home – we’ve provided an overview of all you need to know about playing at an online casino site. The information below is intended as a guide only.
Are online casinos legal in Australia?
Online gambling laws in Australia are covered under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA). In 2017, amendments to the IGA were passed in parliament to close existing loopholes that allowed players to play at offshore casino sites. The IGA amendments have clarified it is illegal for Aussies to play at an online casino site unless it is licensed by a state or territory in Australia. Currently, there are no online casino sites licensed to operate in Australia. There are, however, many online bookmakers which accept bets on Australian sports and racing events.
There has been a big pushback against the IGA amendment, particularly from poker players, lead by the Australian Online Poker Alliance. Two of the big arguments are that poker is a hobby for millions of Australian and banning it, is unconstitutional. Another train of thought is why ban online poker when it is still going on today. The Government can regulate and tax online gambling and in turn make it a safer environment for Australians. One thing is for sure, there is unlikely to be any movement on the online gambling front with neither Labor or Liberal showing any interest in opening this can of worms back up, not in an election year anyway.
BettingSite.com.au abides by the local laws and does not promote offshore real money gambling products to Australians.
How to get started at an online casino
Thanks to the introduction of instant-play, which is where games can be played directly over your Web browser with no downloads required, accessing an online casino has never been easier. All you need to do is choose a safe online casino site that offers what you’re looking for, sign up for an account, make a real money deposit and start playing your favourite games using your desktop, laptop or mobile device.
If you’re not sure if online play is your cup of tea, online casinos provide the option of playing for free in practice mode, so you can trial casino sites and their games with no risk and no commitments.
Casino sign-up bonuses
A major advantage of playing on the Internet is that online casinos offer sign-up bonuses not available in a land-based casino. Welcome bonuses typically consist of things like free spins on the pokies or a matched deposit bonus, which is where the casino vendor doubles or even triples the amount of your first real money deposit. The bonus offers vary between each online casino, so shop around until you find one you like.
In addition to sign-up bonuses, online casinos offer all kinds of other bonuses and promos available exclusively to registered players, including loyalty reward programs, where you can earn points for every real money bet placed at the casino which can later be redeemed for cash, bonuses and real world prizes.
What casino games are available online?
Online casinos offer just about every casino game imaginable, providing a much larger range of games and variants than you would ever find in a land based casino. The variety is what attracts many players to Internet casinos, as you have the freedom to choose games with better odds and more bonus features. Online casinos also offer niche games unique to the Internet, so there’s always something new to be explored.
Casino games you will find when playing at an online casino include:
The game selection varies between each online casino site, so it will pay to shop around and try out different casino sites until you find one that offers the kind of games you’re looking for. Online casinos offer the advantage of free play, which means you can sample games for free in practice mode to get a hang of things or learn new rules without ever having to hand over any cash. You can then choose to play games for real money wagers at any time.
Live dealer casino games
If you like the idea of playing at an online casino but are not too keen on using computerised RNG (random number generator) software, or don’t want to lose the social elements of playing in a land based casino, live games may be the answer for you. These are games hosted by real human dealers from real casino studios, which have been set up to replicate high-end casino tables. Games are streamed in real time using live video feeds, so you can watch all the action unfold and interact with the dealer and other players just as though you were sitting across the table from them, but with complete anonymity behind your computer screen. Dealers are professionally trained and well presented to give you an engaging and entertaining gambling experience, and video, camera and audio options are fully customisable to suit your preferences.
The leading online casino sites offer live dealer blackjack, baccarat, roulette, poker, money wheel, keno, lotto and more, with Playboy Bunny live dealer games available if you like your casino games on the raunchy side.
Online casino software
The gaming software used varies between online casino sites, with the quality of games depending on the software at hand. Some of the highest quality, premium casino software developers include:
- Net Entertainment (NetEnt)
- Play’n Go
- Evolution Gaming
- ELK Studios
- NextGen/NYX Gaming
These software providers keep their fingers on the pulse of emerging technologies to ensure new content is being delivered regularly.
How to deposit and withdraw money
Online casino vendors make it easy for players to deposit real money by providing a selection of safe payment methods in a range of local currencies. The deposit options vary from casino to casino, so you may need to hunt around if there’s a particular payment method you are hoping to use. Commonly accepted deposit and withdrawal methods available at online casinos include:
- Direct Bank Transfer
To deposit and start playing for real money, all you need to do is sign up for an account with a reputable casino site and head to the casino’s cashier/banking/payment section. Select your payment method from the list of options provided and then follow the prompts to complete your transaction.
Most deposits are processed on the spot, so you can start playing for real money instantly. Withdrawals take a little longer, usually one to three business days, depending on the withdrawal method you have chosen. To find out more about the banking options offered at an online casino, head to the sites FAQ section for full details.
Are online casinos safe?
Playing at an online casino can be perfectly safe, provided you have done your research and taken the proper precautions. For every above-board, legitimate casino site out there, there are just as many rogue operators hoping to take you for a ride. To ensure an online casino is safe, check to see if it ticks all these boxes:
- Is it licensed by a reputable online gambling jurisdiction, like the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, Malta Gaming Authority or Curacao eGaming?
- Is the RNG software certified by an independent auditor like eCOGRA or iTech Labs?
- Is the site protected by a minimum of 128-bit SSL (secure socket layer) digital encryption security? This is identifiable by the appearance of a padlock icon in the URL bar, along with an additional “s” in the http:// address
- Does the casino offer a selection of safe payment options?
- Is customer service available via phone, email or live chat if needed?
If an online casino doesn’t offer these safety measures, it is best to avoid it entirely. Just remember to do your homework when choosing casino sites in 2019, because it has never been more dangerous for Australians to gamble with offshore gambling sites.