The Commonwealth of Australian has historically played a very minimal role in the passage of gambling laws throughout the nation. Those measures were generally left up to the government offices of each individual state or territory. In recent years, however, parliament has taken a more active role in Australia’s slot machine laws and gambling regulations in general with the intent of reducing problem gaming throughout the region.
Below, we’ll discuss the current laws enforced on a federal level upon each Australian territory as they pertain to cabinet slot machines; or poker machines as most Aussies call them, as well as online slot machines. For individual state and territory slot machine laws, please see: A look at Laws and Policies Concerning Pokies
Slots Machine Laws in Australia
The most recent policy changes to gambling regulation in Australia came with the passage of the National Gambling Reform Acts of 2012, or NGR Acts for short. Individual regions were still permitted to manage their own electronic gambling machine (EGM) laws on state and territory levels, but would have to abide by the new regulatory framework, relating to EGMs and EMG locations, in doing so. The basic guidelines were laid out as follows:
- All EGMs must display a warning label that details the use of the machine, including risk of potential harm from problem gambling, cost of playing, etc.
- Automatic Teller Machines (ATMs) located on the premises of gaming machine venues (except casinos) may only dispense a maximum of $250, with risk of civil penalty against noncompliant establishments.
- All gaming machines manufactured in Australia or imported into Australia must be equipped with a pre-commitment system prior to installation.
- A supervisory levy will be imposed on all licensed gaming machine operators who fail to comply with the new pre-commitment systems and warning label provisions, with levies designated to cover the costs of enforcing the National Gambling Reform Acts of 2012 by the Commonwealth.
- The National Gambling Regulator (Secretary of the Department of Social Services) is in charge of assigning authorized personnel to monitor and investigate the enduring compliance of all provisions by gaming machine venues. The Regulator may choose how to deal with the contravention of any gambling establishment from a list of optional methods, including civil penalty, infringement notice (comes with choice of fine or court hearing), injunction to obligate compliance, acceptance of undertaking to comply, or a compliance notice wherein the establishment has a limited amount of time to comply with the provisions of NGR Acts.
Gambling Taxation in Australia
Australia makes a great deal of money off gambling taxation, but such levies do not fall on the heads of players. The way the Commonwealth sees it, gamblers pay enough in losses to deserve keeping any winnings they receive, considering them to be derived from good luck rather than a legitimate (taxable) source of income. For operators, on the other hand, the taxes are requisite.
All taxes are paid to the state or territory in which the gaming establishment is located. Operators of slot machines and all other gambling related venues must pay a licensing fee, a turnover tax, a tax on net profits, as well as a tax on player losses.
Online Slot Machines Laws in Australia
On July 11, 2001, Australia passed the Interactive Gambling Act. Prior to the bill’s enforcement, members of the federal government issued an extensive study into the “feasibility and consequences of banning interactive gambling”. The original plan was to outlaw online gambling throughout Australia with the key focus being the protection of consumers, but when the results of the study came back in March, its findings were not as conclusive as they would have liked.
Researchers discovered that of all the technological methods that could be utilized to prevent Australian’s from playing online slot machines at international websites, none would be 100% effective. A ban on the financial side of the boards was considered impractical. The only aspect the government could effectively control was domestic online gambling, which could be thwarted by simply passing laws that domestic online gambling operations cannot accept Australian players, and they would have to abide by it or lose their license to operate.
And with that, the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 was passed, in short, stating three simple facts.
- Authorized online gambling operations located in Australia would be permitted, but they may not accept Australian players.
- It is illegal for online gambling operations located outside of Australia to accept Australian players.
- Despite the fact that online gambling is technically illegal, there are no penalties imposed on Australians who choose to play pokies and other gambling amusements at offshore gaming websites. The government essentially said, ’Play at your own risk’.