You may not realize it, but Australia is home to one of the world’s biggest gambling markets. Not only is Australia home to a strong race betting heritage, it’s a heritage that’s very much alive and well today. The Melbourne Cup of thoroughbred racing is a HUGE public holiday for practically the entire nation of 22 million people. Thanks to some big changes at the legislative level in recent years, Australians have easier access to legal betting. Compared to other betting markets, Australia has among the most liberal gaming laws of any developed nation.
Here comes the science – polls tell us that 4 out of every 5 Australian adults will place a legal bet at some point in the next year. That’s a significant statistic indicating just how powerful the pull of regulated betting is in the country – and it comes from the New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming, & Racing. Further along in that same study we read that Australians are expected to place more than $21 billion in legal bets in the next year. That puts Australia in the top-five world gaming markets in terms of pure spending.
Most forms of sports betting that you’d find in Las Vegas or the high streets of the UK are fully-legal in most of the Commonwealth of Australia – in fact, sports wagering is second in popularity only to horse race bets. Australia is home to brick and mortar betting shops, like you’d find in the UK. All sports are legal for wagers, from the football and rugby beloved of native Australians to dog and horse racing and US pro sports. There’s one important exception which I’ll get into a bit later in the article – no live “in-play” sports betting is allowed, by Australian law.
On feature of Australian gambling law that may appeal to Americans – the lack of taxes levied against gambling winnings. To Australians, money you win gambling is still a legitimate form of profit. No matter if you win $10 or $10,000,000, if you win it in Australia, you’ll pay absolutely no taxes on the amount. That’s really neat – and something I wish the US government would consider.
Are Australian Online Sportsbooks Legal?
I’ve just spent 300 words glorifying the Australian betting market – but how legal is the act of sports betting according to the Australian government? And how cozy is the Aussie online sports betting industry if you live in the United States? Well we answer those questions and more on this page.
Let’s start with a generalization – sports betting is legal and freely available from Brisbane to Perth. Casinos are also legal but not as regulated as the sports betting market. According to this source, it’s because gaming law is generally left up to states and territories (with very little federal intervention), therefore making it impossible to really say that the entire Commonwealth is pro-gaming. Some states and territories have heavy restrictions on what forms of gaming are legal – others have almost no restrictions.
If you live in the United States, you won’t have much luck signing up for an account at an Australian-based online sportsbook. In researching this article, I attempted to make free accounts at all the big-name Aussie online books, and each time I was prevented even from loading their sites. Australia has a strong treaty and business relationship with the United States, one that they’re not willing to risk by opening the doors of their online gaming business to US customers. Bottom line – if you live in America, you’re not going to be allowed to bet at a legitimate Aussie online book.
Earlier, I referred to the fact that (by Commonwealth law) “live betting,” or placing wagers on a sporting event after it’s already started, is illegal. There’s a simple explanation for this – the Australian government was concerned that this form of sports wagering was simply “too addictive,” and since Australia consider problem gambling to be a public health risk, the practice was outlawed. Technically, this law applies only to live Internet betting, not to wagers placed at brick and mortar betting shops or placed over the phone.
Because of the differences in various state laws in the Commonwealth, it’s meaningless to make many broad statements about the legality of each popular form of sports betting in Australia. It is important to point out that Australia finally has its first online gambling licensing body – the government of Tasmania formed the Tasmanian Gaming Commission in recent years, and are in the business of issuing licenses for casinos and sportsbook sites aimed at Australian bettors.
It’s a wild and rabidly-popular marketplace, and the laws and enforcement are extremely lax. The Australian betting market is what the US market might look like in fifty years’ time, once popular opinion against wagering on sports has faded away, and the need for increased revenue pushes states to assert their right to regulate and tax all forms of sports betting.
What to Look for in an Australian Sportsbook
If you’re looking for an Australian sportsbook site, you’re most likely either living in or visiting Australia or some area of Oceania. In that case, you’re in luck, as that part of the world carries few restrictions against joining Internet sportsbooks. Basically, you can take your pick from a dozen big-name sportsbook websites – and you can be demanding.
Here are the features I would look for if I were hunting down an Aussie online sports betting website:
- High-Value Bonuses & Promotions
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again – always check out a site’s bonuses and promotions before you join. Even if you don’t plan on ever going near a bonus. I’ll tell you why: the quality of bonuses available is in direct correlation to the concern the site has for its customers. In other words – the better the bonuses, the better you’re going to be treated if you join. Of course, because Australia’s market is so wide-open, you’d be dumb not to earn a promo of some sort. These offers are there to incentivize your membership; because there’s a glut of online books with mobile options and all the latest features, the way they distinguish their services is to offer a variety of promotions, competitively. Not allowing these sites to compete for your business is a huge oversight.
- A Long List of Betting Markets
Not to sound like a broken record – but again, because the sports betting industry is fully-legal and regulated, Australian books are able to offer a huge variety of wagers on a long list of betting markets. Choosing to open an account at a book with a limited number of sports available for betting is a mistake, because the best books in the country have lists of available sports that rival the longest in the world. Yes, there’s a bias toward sports popular in Australia – football, rugby, cricket, and horse racing – but the big online books in the Commonwealth also offer solid lines on the big four US sports and a host of niche markets to boot.
- Free Deposits & Withdrawals
Often, Australian online sportsbooks compete for business with their payment method details as much as with their bonus and promotions lineups. The legal status of the Aussie sportsbook industry means a variety of legal payment methods exist, and sites will often incentivize your membership by offering you a good deal on your deposit or withdrawal to the site’s cashier department. I’d go ahead and recommend that you refuse to pay for deposits and withdrawals, and hunt for a site that meets those requirement. You can also contact a site’s customer service department and ask them directly to offer you a free pay-in and pay-out deal. Remember – these books are competing for your business, so be as demanding as you want to be.
Top Deposit Methods for Australian Online Sportsbooks
Australian sportsbooks are generally designed for Australian-based bettors. This isn’t an across-the-board rule, and many Aussie online books offer currency and language support that indicate they have at least a small base of international customers. Still, the top deposit methods used at Australian sports betting websites closely mirror those methods available to Australian citizens.
- Credit/Debit/Gift Cards
This is by far the most popular method used by Australian sportsbook bettors to add and withdraw funds from their sportsbook accounts. In parts of the world where gambling is fully-regulated, deposits and withdrawals using bank cards is the most convenient and accessibly payment method.
POLi is an Australian eWallet service that can be funded using any branch of any Australian bank. POLi is used for more than just online gambling – it’s a powerful online payment tool that also serves to protect your identity and your financial details. All the big sportsbook sites in Australia are designed to accept POLi deposits and withdrawals.
- Other eWallets
If for some reason a bettor at an Australian online book doesn’t want to use the Commonwealth’s popular POLi payment system, they’re still in luck – most Australian books accept deposit and pay withdrawals via a long list of eWallet services, such as Neteller and UKash.
Our Recommended Australian Online Sportsbooks
Here are brief reviews of the best online sportsbooks located in Australia:
Bookmaker.eu is a BetCRIS online betting service located in Costa Rica and open to Australian wagers. Bookmaker has grown over the years into a combo site (with casino and poker options, among other bets) but is still best known for its UK-focused sportsbook product. The site is friendly to Australian deposit methods and does business in the Aussie dollar. First-time sportsbook depositors are eligible for a welcome bonus – a 50% deposit match bonus prize worth up to $300.
Bet365 has been in business (and accepting wagers from Australians) since 2001. The site was originally just a sportsbook, but added mobile and casino games over the years, not to mention a popular poker room and a few other games of chance and skill. First time sportsbook customers are eligible for a 100% deposit match worth up to $200.
- mBit Sportsbook
mBit was originally a bitcoin-only sportsbook betting site. These days, they’re expanding to include a HUGE list of available payment methods, and starting to offer bets besides sports wagers. mBit is open to business from Australian sports bettors. The site is running a special welcome bonus – all first-time depositors can earn a 110% cash bonus with a low 4x bonus wagering requirement, which is maxed out at $200.
- BetOnline Sports
BetOnline is an old-timer in the sports betting industry, open since 2001. BetOnline gladly accept deposits in the Australian dollar, and are open to Australian customers. BetOnline is offering our readers a special 50% bonus up to $1,000 if they sign up using our bonus code: “NFL15.”
- GTBets Sportsbook
GTBets is by far the youngest member of our list of recommended Australian books. They’ve only been open four years at the time I’m writing this article, and though they offer a long list of charming gambling options including sports betting, they don’t have the same authority in the industry as the big boys on this list. That’s why they’re incentivizing membership for our readers with a special bonus – if you sign up at GTBets through Picks.org, they’ll give you a FREE $10 Super Bowl futures bet. You’ll also earn the site’s standard 100% sign-up bonus worth up to $250.
>> Take note – US players from the following states are restricted from opening a GTBets account: Louisiana, Maryland, Oregon, Missouri, New York, and Kentucky.
Online sports betting is clearly legal throughout the Commonwealth of Australia, provided an online book follows the rules and regulations of the state and territory where it’s located. Because of the Commonwealth’s liberal gaming laws and relaxed social attitude towards online gambling, placing bets on sports over the Internet is a popular and acceptable activity all over Australia. If you live in the United States, you’ll have difficulty taking part in the wagering going on down under; if you live in Australia, Oceania, or are visiting either, the market is wide open to your business.