Minimum Age to Gamble in Australia

Updated: | By: Frederick Worsham
Minimum Age to Gamble in Australia

Gambling has been around in Australia since the early days, with traditional land-based casinos rife around the country, eventually being overtaken by their online counterparts. The gambling landscape has changed in recent years when it comes to legality. Australia has a varied history of gambling law. The legal landscape spreads over federal and state laws. In 2021, the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 was passed, which allows gaming operators to offer their services online. These laws are in place to ensure player protection and a fair gaming environment, and underage players do not partake.

Growing Up Australia, the Longitudinal Study of Australian Children (LSAC), states that around half of all young people have gambled by age 15. This shows there is a serious problem around underage gambling, which the regulators are trying to tackle. Research from industry news outlets and responsible gaming organisation GambleAware stated that parents or guardians influenced 53.7% of underage gamblers, while 26% were influenced to gamble by friends.

The regulatory authorities restrict unlicensed gaming operators from running real money gambling to Aussies. However, there are many online casinos and gambling sites that operate in Australia under an offshore gaming license. Some online gaming operators are not subject to the strict regulations that the IGA enforces. In other words, it’s always safer to play a fully licensed and regulated gaming site. You can find many of the best online casinos available to play in Australia.

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Online Gambling Minimum Age in Australia

Gambling is highly regulated across all states, with the minimum age strictly enforced. All players must be at least 18 to participate in any form of gambling: land-based, online gambling destination or lottery.
  • New South Wales: Online gambling regulation in NSW is overseen by the Department of Customer Service. In this state, online casino gambling is completely prohibited, so you can enjoy online betting on sports and poker only.
  • Victoria: Gambling in the state of Victoria is regulated by the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR). The online gambling laws also prevent online casino gambling under the regulation of the IGA. Only poker and sports are allowed under a regulated operator.
  • Queensland: The Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) regulates the gambling landscape in Queensland. Any online casino betting is strictly prohibited under the IGA regulation.
  • South Australia: In the southern territory, the Independent Gambling Authority (IGA) runs the regulation. Again, no online casino gaming is allowed, but sports betting and poker can be played legally.
  • Western Australia: In the large state of Western Australia, gambling laws are enforced by the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries. This is another state where online casino gambling is a no-go, while sports and poker are permitted.
  • Tasmania: The state gambling laws are run by the Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission. Online casino gaming is not yet regulated, while sports betting and poker betting activities are popular within the state.
  • Northern Territory: The gambling laws are regulated by the Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC).
  • Australian Capital Territory (ACT): The ACT Gambling and Racing Commission governs gambling here, prohibiting online casino betting.
In the past, there have been states that allowed scratch cards and lotteries to be played at 16 years old. However, the age restrictions have become stricter and are likely to only increase further in the future.

Offline Gambling Minimum Age in Australia

The minimum age for gambling at land-based casinos in Australia is 18 across all states, which is the same for online gaming. The Gambling Regulation Act states “A person must be 18 years of age to gamble in hotel/club venues, casinos, TABs, to buy lottery products or to access legally available online gambling services.” The brick-and-mortar casinos are a safe and fun way to enjoy casino entertainment. These casinos are also licensed and subject to regulation under the various state regulatory gambling bodies, ensuring all games are audited and fair.

The Gambling Landscape in Australia

In Australia, there are many ways to enjoy thrilling gambling action, whether at home or visiting your local casino. Each year, Australians lose around $25 billion to legal forms of gaming. Here’s where you can access exciting casinos and sports betting in Australia.
  • Casinos: Australia has many amazing land-based casinos, including the Crown Casino in Melbourne and the Star Casino in Sydney. These casinos are full entertainment destinations with many pokies, table games, poker rooms, and more.
  • Lotteries and Scratchies: You can play national and state-run lotteries, which are widely popular and offer life-changing prizes. You can also find instant scratch-off games at your local store, often called “scratchies.”
  • Sports Betting: The most popular form of betting in the country. It can be enjoyed online, allowing you to wager on your favourite sports, horses and more.
  • Poker: Poker is widely enjoyed by Aussies, with games available online and at your local casino.
73% of Australians reported spending money on one or more gambling products in the previous year. Lotteries/scratchies had the most participation (64%), followed by race betting (39% for horse), sports betting (34%), and poker machines/’pokies’ (33%).

The Reason Behind Gambling Age Requirements

There are many reasons for the minimum age requirement for gambling. This restriction serves an essential purpose, and that is to prevent younger people from picking up a harmful gambling habit. Unfortunately, many underage players fall victim to gambling, and that is why many responsible organisations exist for services and content, like the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACMM) or the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). The minimum age requirement set by the Australian Gambling Regulation enforces responsibilities, so those who are gambling are mature and have a responsible attitude towards risking money on games. Many self-help tools, such as BetStop – the National Self-Exclusion Register and professional organisations help those with gambling issues. They are the National Gambling Helpline, Gamblers Anonymous, and Financial counselling. The minimum age restriction enforces the regulatory framework. The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare exists to help uphold a safe gambling environment. The impacts of underage gambling can have devastating social consequences. Therefore, the regulated casino sites require player verification to ensure the minimum age requirement is not broken. The verification, or “KYC” (know your customer) process, requires a form of government-issued ID, such as your passport or driver’s license. These regulations exist to prevent underage gambling and keep players safe from harm. However, online gaming sites with offshore regulations do not have the same level of commitment to player safety and underage gambling prevention. The federal and state governing bodies have a duty to enforce this law, ensuring that gambling operators abide by the set legal requirements.

The Impact of Underage Gambling

Those who partake in underage gambling open themselves up to some severe consequences. The most obvious one is the devastating financial impact it can have, leading to debt and other financial difficulties. Many Australians expressed concern about gambling availability and its impacts on the community. The Australian Institute of Family Studies found that 77% of Aussies feel gambling is ‘dangerous for family life’. This can also lead to social issues and potential legal repercussions, such as fines and penalties for the minor and the operator. Early exposure to online gambling will also increase the chances of the minor developing gambling-related issues in later life. Most importantly, it can have an impact on the individual mental and emotional well-being, which can hinder their quality of life. The Australian Institute of Family Studies has stated that around 5% of 16-17-year-olds have bet on sports, horses, or dog racing. This level of underage betting activity is a gateway into online gambling entertainment and the need to satisfy a thrill.

Responsible Gambling Initiatives

There are many responsible gambling initiatives offered by online casinos that operate in Australia. Many of these initiatives are required to be eligible for a gaming certification. Here are some of the tools and options you have to help you stay in control of your gambling activity.
  1. Account Limitations: You will often find the option to set up a deposit limit to encourage financial control. Moreover, many casinos will also provide daily, weekly, or monthly limits on your losses, the amount you wager, and more.
  2. Self-Exclusion: If you find yourself with a gambling problem, you should self-exclude immediately. A self-exclusion will close your account for a set period, usually between 1 week and six months. During this period, you will not be able to access your account, and you won’t be able to end the exclusion early.
  3. Support and Professional Help: Many dedicated organisations specialise in helping those with a gambling problem. These services offer free help and guidance in overcoming problem gambling. You can access these through sites, helplines, and even face-to-face groups. All the information will be available on the responsible gaming page at the online casino.
There are many gambling initiatives and education programs available in Australia. You can find programs across all states, all created to serve a positive purpose. The Australian Gaming Council is a well-respected organisation that provides a helpful list of available programs. These programs change your thoughts towards the form of entertainment.
  • ChilVIC – Video Gaming and Gambling
  • Children and Gambling Watch List
  • NSW – Reclaim the Game
  • NSW – Supporting Young People
  • NSW – Life Ready: Gambling Modules
  • NSW – GambleAware for Teachers and Youth Workers
Check the website to get all info on these gambling education programs and more.

Conclusion

Gambling is a form of entertainment that should always be enjoyed responsibly. You should never gamble while underage, and you should never trust a casino that allows underage players to bet. You should always keep in mind that the regulations are in place to protect players from harm. The Australian gambling authorities are always working towards improving the safety of gambling. The regulation is heavily enforced, ensuring gaming operators are doing their bit to adhere to the rules and create a safe gambling space, whether that’s online or down the local casino.  
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