By far the most popular form of gambling in terms of per capita expenditure is wagering on electronic gaming machines (EGMs). EGMs can be found in most pubs, clubs, and casinos around the country, often with large rooms or sections of the venues dedicated to gaming. Some of these venues will also host horseracing and greyhound racing betting facilities known as a TAB (Totalisator Agency Board) or UBET. TAB and UBET facilities are also available at dedicated betting shops owned and managed by Tabcorp, which has a near-monopoly on lotteries and land-based betting shops. However, despite launching its own online gambling platform, Tabcorp’s share of the overall gambling market is being threatened by online wagering websites and apps like Sportsbet and Ladbrokes.
Second only to EGMs and other gaming, the racing industry enjoys a high profile in Australia and although racing events are also viewed as social events and fashion spectacles, betting on the outcome of races is a given. Australia’s most famous and prestigious horse racing event is the Melbourne Cup Carnival, hosted by the Victorian Turf Club at Flemington racecourse in Melbourne. The event has been dubbed “the race that stops the nation”, due to its nationwide viewership, associated events, and widespread gambling participation.
Australia boasts 13 casinos including Crown Casino in Melbourne and The Star in Sydney. A second casino for Sydney was approved in 2013 but just as the new “Crown Sydney” was approaching completion at the end of 2020, the license holder, Crown Resorts, was deemed unsuitable to hold a casino license after an investigation into money laundering by NSW’s Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA). The inquiry and resulting decision proved to be a setback not only for the Crown Sydney casino but also triggered a Royal Commission into Crown Resort’s flagship casino, Crown Melbourne, and will likely have implications for the regulation of the industry as a whole.
Despite the occasional regulatory breach, the gambling industry is closely regulated and taxed, by the federal, state, and territory governments. Each jurisdiction administers its own caps on gaming licenses and EGMs, but online and interactive gaming is administered federally by the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, which prohibits online casinos and online EGM gaming for Australian residents. Exceptions for online gambling have been made for racing and sports betting and the Northern Territory permits interactive online gaming operations, however, the services are only available to overseas visitors.