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Australian regulated betting sites - legal online bookmakers (betting agencies)

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Table of contents
Meet our author
Betting expert Elizabeth Winnie

Through a ranking system and serious and consolidated standards, we make a point of evaluating the best authorized betting sites in Australia. This information will not only allow you to have access to the best bonuses, but also to the best conditions to make the best sports bets online.

Sports betting laws in Australia

To say that Australians love to gamble would be an understatement. It is estimated that adults lose an average of $1,288 per year betting on sports. This ranks Australians among the biggest gamblers on the planet. In fact, the central banks were forced to hike interest rates on loans because so many punters were taking out loans to cover the costs of partaking in sports betting.

The laws surrounding online sports betting in Australia can be a tad confusing to some people. Perhaps the most important piece of federal legislation that relates to sports gambling is the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. This was created in response to the explosion of internet gambling during the mid to late 1990s. However, online sports betting rules vary as each state is given the authority to enact and enforce their own online gambling laws and regulatory environment.

One of the most important things to understand is that sports gambling is legal in Australia. This applies to land-based outlets and online sports betting sites in Australia. Sports bettors can place sports bets at legal betting sites in Australia as well as at offshore betting agencies. Generally speaking, the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 focuses primarily on Australian online betting sites as opposed to the Aussie punters who use them.

Since the IGA was created in 2001, there have been a couple of updates to it. Amendments were made in 2017 and then again in 2019. These amendments mainly related to advertising and player protection. While these changes tightened up the regulatory environment, it also resulted in over 150 operators leaving Australia.

State body controlling the gambling industry

As mentioned, each Australian state oversees gambling in their own region. Even though there are some minor differences in rules and regulations depending on where you are, the laws concerning online sports betting in Australia are fairly consistent. A few prerequisites that all Aussie-licensed operators must satisfy include:

  • Must have an office on Aussie soil
  • Must be registered in Australia
  • Must pay Australian taxes

With Australia being divided into eight states, this means there are eight different regulatory bodies that are charged with licensing and the enforcement of regulations in their state. You will find a list of states and the gambling regulators that oversee sports betting in them.

  • Victoria

    The Victorian Commission for Liquor and Gambling Regulation is tasked with licensing and compliance. This agency is an arm of the Victoria Department of Justice and Regulation which is in charge of policy, regulations, and licensing.
  • New South Wales

    In New South Wales, gambling oversight is provided by Liquor and Gaming New South Wales which is a branch of New South Wales Department of Customer Service. This agency is in charge of compliance, policy, and licensing. While the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority is responsible for a variety of regulatory functions related to gambling, they typically delegate most licensing functions to Liquor and Gaming NSW.
  • Queensland

    The Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation and the Queensland Office of Regulatory Policy are entities within Queensland’s State Department of Justice and Attorney General. The Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation is mainly charged with compliance and licensing while the Office of Regulatory Policy is tasked with legislation and policy.
  • Australian Capital Territory

    The Australian Capital Territory’s Gambling and Racing Commission operates under the Minister of Regulatory Services. It is responsible for licensing and regulating gambling within the ACT including sports betting and horse racing betting
  • South Australia

    Within South Australia’s Attorney General’s Department lies Consumer and Business Services. This agency is charged with licensing, compliance, and regulations regarding sports betting agencies and other gambling operations including pokies and the lottery.
  • Tasmania

    The Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission operates under the Department of Treasury and Finance. This independent authority is responsible for the licensing of betting agencies and other gambling operations within Tasmania.
  • Western Australia

    If you want to launch an online sports betting site or a horse racing betting site in Western Australia, you’ll need to obtain a license from the Western Australia Department of Racing, Gaming, and Liquor. This regulatory body oversees licensing, compliance, and policy. This agency is an arm of the Minister of Racing and Gaming.
  • Northern Territory

    There are two agencies responsible for horse racing betting and sports betting in Australia’s Northern Territory and they are both branches of the Northern Territory Department of the Attorney General and Justice. The Northern Territory Racing Commission deals with compliance-related matters while Licensing Northern Territory takes care of licensing.

Are betting sites legal in Australia?

It is perfectly legal to operate online sports betting sites in Australia. Of course, they need to be licensed by the regulatory body that oversees online sports betting in the state or territory in which they operate. All legal betting sites in Australia are publicly displayed on the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s website. Australian online betting sites that operate without a license face fines of up to a whopping $1,100,000 per day.

There are also some other significant rules that govern legal betting sites in Australia. For instance, operators must ensure that any sports bettors who place bets with them are 18 or older. It is the operator’s responsibility to verify the age and identity of all customers. This is why the best Australian betting sites require new customers to complete the verification process within 14 days of registration. The best Australian betting sites are also limited to accepting bets from punters in Australia or other approved foreign countries such as New Zealand.

As of 2022, there are around 100 Australian online betting sites operating throughout the eight Aussie states. Some of them offer their services exclusively to Australians while other larger bookmaking companies operate in several other countries.

As a side note, it is worth mentioning that while online sports betting sites are legal in Australia, the same can’t be said for online casinos and online poker sites. Domestic new bet sites are prohibited from offering games like roulette, blackjack, craps, poker, and online slots. With that said, there are no laws in place that prohibit online casino enthusiasts from playing real-money casino games or online poker at offshore sites. Many foreign online casinos and poker sites gladly accept Australians and they offer great new betting apps that allow Aussies to play their favorite casino games on the go. The bonuses and ongoing promotions are quite good too.

Is it possible to bet with legal foreign bookmakers?

In terms of legal betting sites, Australia has dozens of great ones to choose from. The best betting sites Australia has to offer have competitive odds, top-shelf customer service, and helpful features like live streaming, betting tips, and handicapping tools. They also afford Aussie bettors with the best player protection. Nevertheless, some punters prefer to use offshore online sports betting sites. Many Aussie sports bettors would argue that some of the biggest foreign operators offer the best odds along with other betting options that even the very best betting site in Australia can’t offer.

As luck would have it, no laws exist that would prohibit Aussie punters from taking their business to these legal betting sites that operate outside of Australia. Plenty of highly rated international online sports betting sites offer their services to Australians. A lot of them even support the Australian dollar as well as a wide range of Aussie-friendly payment solutions. The reality is that the best legal betting sites outside of Australia can offer more than the top legal betting sites Australia has. Welcome bonuses and live betting are perhaps the two most significant examples of this.

Advantages and disadvantages of betting with legal and illegal bookmakers

If you are in search of the best betting site, there are a few key factors that you need to consider. Legal betting sites in Australia come with a variety of pros and cons. Of course, the same can be said of offshore legal betting sites too. It’s advisable to weigh them all before you decide on an online sports betting site. Let’s start with a few of the main benefits of online sports betting sites in Australia.

Advantages

Perhaps the most significant advantage of betting at the best Australian betting sites is that you are afforded the highest level of player protection. For starters, all Aussie gambling regulators and licensing bodies hold operators to the highest and strictest standards. On top of that, these Australian regulators can actually enforce the rules. Aussie gambling regulators are not paper tigers.

The Australian regulatory bodies don’t simply hand out licenses to any aspiring online bookmaker. Obtaining an interactive gambling license from an Australian licensing agency requires a lot of work and plenty of money. Prospective bookmakers are thoroughly scrutinised from the moment they submit a license application. This firm oversight doesn’t end when the license is issued. The Australian regulatory agencies always keep close tabs on operators to ensure they maintain those high standards. They aren’t afraid to take online gambling sites to task by issuing massive fines and/or suspending or revoking their gambling licenses. When one considers the amount of money a company must invest to operate an online betting site in Australia, the most reputable operators can’t afford to risk being shut down.

Aussie punters who use offshore legal betting sites are usually afforded a lot of protection. Licensing entities like the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, Malta Gaming Authority, and the Government of Gibraltar are among the most respected regulators in the world. However, they are not subject to Australian laws, which means punters have little meaningful recourse should they encounter a problem. Australian authorities cannot intervene as offshore sports betting sites are outside of their jurisdiction. On the flip side, Australian sports bettors who have disputes with legal betting sites in Australia have legitimate avenues to pursue. Local regulators have the authority to enforce their decisions.

Ever since online sports betting came into existence, we’ve all heard stories about online bookmakers closing their doors and absconding with player funds. This has always been an issue. However, Australian legal betting sites must keep their operational funds separated from their customer’s funds. This is to ensure that your money is always available to be withdrawn in full at any time.

While it’s true that the best offshore legal betting sites cover a vast selection of sports and other events, the best legal betting sites Australia pay a little more attention to Australian leagues and Aussie horse racing betting. At the same time, Australian legal betting sites offer odds on a huge selection of foreign leagues and niche sports like darts, table tennis, cycling, and snooker. Having so many top-tier Aussie bookies to choose from also gives punters the opportunity to shop around for the best odds and take advantage of features like live streaming, cash out, and enhanced odds. We must also consider that a lot of Australian sports bettors prefer to give their business to domestic online sports betting sites instead of foreign sites. After all, it’s better for the economy.

One of the most under-rated advantages of betting at an Australian bookmaker is that they are required to provide their customers with a wide range of responsible gambling tools and resources. This is important seeing how problem gambling is such a huge issue Down Under. The creation of the National Self-Exclusion list was one of the results of the 2019 amendments to Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act. Implementing this was a victory for responsible gambling advocates.

Disadvantages

As trustworthy and reliable as Australian legal betting sites are, there are a few distinct disadvantages to them. For starters, Aussie bookmakers are not allowed to advertise their services or offer incentives such as welcome bonuses to prospective customers. Offering welcome bonuses and other promotions is one of the most effective means of attracting new players. Punters can benefit greatly from these offers. Being able to claim welcome bonuses like free bets, risk-free bets, and bonus cash is very attractive to any sports betting enthusiast. This is a major reason why so many Aussie sports bettors prefer betting with reputable foreign operators.

One of the strangest disadvantages that Aussie betting sites are faced with is their inability to accept live in-play bets online. However, there is a loophole that many Australian online betting sites exploit. They are allowed to advertise live betting odds on their sites. The thing is that punters have to call the bookmaker on the telephone to place their bets. Of course, this isn’t always practical because live betting odds change so quickly. That’s just the nature of live betting. By the time you dial the number and get the bookie on the other end of the phone, the odds you saw a few moments ago may have significantly shifted against you. This is not an issue with the best offshore sports betting sites. Australian bettors who use foreign bookies can place their bets online in the blink of an eye.

Another disadvantage is that domestic online bookmakers tend to offer inferior odds and fewer betting markets than the big international betting agencies. With that said, some domestic bookmakers will offer better odds than international bookies on smaller Australian betting markets. Experienced sports bettors know the importance of getting the best odds possible. Making a profit through sports betting is extremely challenging and punters need to take full advantage of any edge they can find. Even a small difference in the odds can have a significant impact on a sports bettor’s bottom line. It might not make a lot of difference in the short term, but it really adds up over the long haul.

Illegal bookmakers

When we say illegal bookmakers, what we are referring to are bookmakers that operate without a license from an Australian authority or from any other jurisdiction. Betting at an illegal or unlicensed site comes with nothing but downside. For starters, you have little to no protection. If the illegal bookie suddenly closes shop or freezes your account and funds, there is nothing you can do about it. Because they are not licensed or regulated Down Under, illegal online sportsbooks don’t have to answer to anyone including Australian regulatory bodies..

A bookmaker might have an awesome welcome bonus, plenty of promotions, the best odds, and one of the fanciest new betting apps around, but you should avoid it like the plague if the site does not have a license. A lot of rogue sites popped up when online sports betting was in its infancy and they gave the entire industry a black eye. Fortunately, fewer and fewer of them operate today as the regulatory environment has tightened. Nevertheless, they do exist.

Reasons to choose an Australian bookmaker

  • Legal betting sites in Australia must comply with Australian laws.
  • Access to an Australian customer service team.
  • Access to Australian-friendly payment options.
  • Highest levels of player protection.
  • Aussie bookies create jobs for Australians and contribute to the Australian economy through various taxes and fees.

Reasons to avoid online bookmakers that are not licensed in Australia

  • Foreign operators are not subject to Australian laws.
  • No real recourse if the unlicensed site doesn’t pay you.
  • Payments may be blocked.
  • Unlicensed sites generally do not operate to the highest standards.

Prohibitions and restrictions on the bookies

Even though Australian online gambling laws permit sports betting online, there are a variety of restrictions and prohibitions that domestic betting sites must abide by. In fact, some of these restrictions even apply to offshore operators.

We should start with some of the most significant limitations that are placed on Australian legal betting sites. If you have ever visited an international online bookmaker, you have likely noticed that some of them also feature other verticals such as online casinos, live dealer casinos, and poker rooms. In most cases, you can use the funds in your sports betting account to play casino games and poker. Australian-based betting sites are a little different. This is because the interactive gaming laws in Australia prohibit operators from offering online casino games and online poker. This applies to all Australian states and territories. Once again, this provides offshore sites with a significant advantage.

This doesn’t mean that Australians can’t play real money casino games and online poker. They can. They just need to do it at an offshore site. Fortunately, Australians have plenty of reputable and legal offshore poker rooms and online casinos that they can play at. Many of these even offer a wide range of valuable bonuses and ongoing promotions. Furthermore, some of them also operate under some of the strictest rules in the industry.

Speaking of bonuses, did you know that Australian online casinos are prohibited from offering welcome bonuses to new customers? It’s true. Australian sports betting sites are not allowed to offer any credit, vouchers, or other freebies that act as an incentive to open an account. This is why you won’t be offered a welcome bonus if you sign up at a legal Australian sports betting site. However, there are no rules that prevent Aussie bookmakers from offering bonuses and promotions to existing customers. You won’t be able to see them until you have opened an account, but legal betting sites located in Australia actually do allow existing customers to claim things like bonus cash, free bets, risk-free bets, and other freebies.

Perhaps one of the most significant restrictions that Aussie bookmakers online must abide by relates to live betting. As you may know, live betting is one of the most popular ways to bet these days. Almost all international bookmakers offer it. Now, Australian online sports betting sites are legally allowed to accept live in-play bets. It’s just that they can’t accept these bets over the internet. To get around this obstacle, many Australian-based online betting sites display their live odds and allow punters to place their live bets over the telephone. These restrictions on live betting do not apply to most offshore sites.

Australian gambling regulators are quite strict when it comes to KYC policies. For those unfamiliar with this acronym, KYC stands for Know Your Customer. In other words, Australian operators are required to verify the age and identity of all customers. This is common practice at reputable offshore sites too. The verification process is intended to prevent things like fraud, identity theft, and underage gambling. For the site to verify you, they will ask you to provide digital copies of various supporting documents such as a passport and a utility bill.

The verification process is a standard process at most reputable offshore sites too. However, Australian sites are required to be a bit stricter. If you sign up at an offshore site, you can usually deposit funds, claim bonuses, and place bets without having to complete verification. You just won’t be able to withdraw funds until you do. A lot of Australian legal betting sites won’t even let you make a deposit until you’ve been verified. You’ll normally be prompted to submit your documents as soon as you sign up. If you haven’t complied within 14 days of registering, your account will be frozen.

Licenses

All legal betting sites that operate in Australia have been thoroughly vetted. While the licensing process and the fees associated with it vary depending on which state it’s issued in, we can tell you that the process is neither cheap nor easy. It can also take a year or more. The applicable licensing authority meticulously scrutinizes everything from the applicant’s business plan and financial capacity to their reputation. If there is even the slightest concern about the applicant’s ability, business plan, financial capability, or history, they probably won’t get a license. Of course, this greatly benefits Australian punters because they know that bookies licensed in Australia are legit and trustworthy.

The scrutiny doesn’t end with the issuance of an Australian interactive gambling license either. As long as the Australian betting site remains in business, they will always be subjected to regular audits to ensure they are always in compliance with the high standards that are expected of them. In addition to this ongoing and strict oversight, these Australian online bookies pay massive amounts of money in fees and taxes. The fees involved in starting up an online sportsbook can easily exceed $200,000. That doesn’t include the ongoing fees and taxes that apply once an operation is up and running.

Again, this strict and costly approach to regulating operators benefits Australian sports bettors. With the enormous amount of time, effort, and money that online sports betting sites must commit, they are very unlikely to risk it all by skirting the rules or not operating to the highest standards.

Bonus Policy

The best Australian legal betting sites offer a wide range of features and perks. You can make use of the most popular features such as live streaming, cash out, and live betting over the telephone. Australia’s legal betting sites even offer expert betting tips and handicapping tools to help you make informed bets. The best betting sites in Australia might even offer the best odds on select sports. However, the one thing that you should not expect is a welcome bonus. As mentioned, Aussie online bookmakers are prohibited from offering any incentives designed to attract new players.

Despite this, Australian bookmakers are allowed to offer a wide range of bonuses, promotions, and other perks to existing customers. These offers can earn customers such things as free bets, boosted odds, risk-free bets, and plenty of bonus cash. The frustrating thing is that you won’t find out what types of offers are available until you open an account. With that said, you can get a good idea of what’s available by checking out a few Australian bookmakers and bonus reviews.

You can also simply open a new account. It only takes about a minute or so to do. That way, you can check out first-hand what offers the bookmaker has waiting for you. In addition to seeing the bonuses and promotions listed on the site or in the available bonuses section of your account profile, some Aussie bookies will notify you of the latest deals via email or SMS. It might be a loophole that Australian online sports betting sites use, but it is legal.

Sports betting laws in Australia: conclusion

Australian sports betting laws place some limitations on sports bettors that they would not be subjected to at foreign online sportsbooks. Nevertheless, Australia’s sports gambling regulations are a great model that many other jurisdictions look to when creating or refining their regulations.

In the end, it really boils down to making your own choices. If you want to make certain compromises such as trading the best player protection so that you can claim welcome bonuses or place live bets online, then that’s your prerogative. The important thing is that you have diligently weighed the pros and cons.

With that said, we think that sticking with Australian online sports betting is your best bet. The betting odds are very competitive and the top Aussie bookmakers cover as many or more sports and competitions as the big international betting companies. You won’t be offered a welcome bonus, but being to immediately claim bonuses and promotions after you sign up is just as good.

However, our biggest argument for choosing an Australian online betting site with an Aussie license is the player protection angle. You can trust that any Australian betting site will treat you fairly and they will always pay out your winnings quickly and without any hassle. Despite the top-shelf reputations that regulatory agencies like the UKGC, MGA, and Gibraltar have, they simply can’t guarantee the same high levels of player protection.

Understanding the sports betting laws in Australia makes it easier for sports bettors Down Under to make an informed decision when choosing a bookie. This goes a long way toward having the best possible sports betting experience. We urge you to check out some of our favourite Aussie bookmakers before you make your decision.