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New Rules By "Racing Australia" Aim to Fight Offshore Gambling

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Racing Australia, the governing body for thoroughbred horse races in the country, has announced new rules intended to curb the offshore betting industry. These regulations will come into effect Aug. 1 and will bar everyone subject to the decisions of the organization from engaging in illicit wagering with unlicensed online sites.

Details

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The new rules are primarily directed at racing trainers and owners. If they're suspected of making bets at unauthorized sites, their computers, phones, and other electronic equipment could be seized and forensically searched for evidence. A similar provision was enacted a while ago by Racing Victoria in the state over which it has jurisdiction, and this measure will now be adopted nationwide.

Australia Online Gambling Laws

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The 2001 Interactive Gambling Act and Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016 establish the framework under which legalized sports and race betting can occur in Australia. According to the contents of these laws, bookmaking organizations have to be licensed by a competent regulatory body active in the country in order to be allowed to accept custom from Australians. Operators who flout these rules are subject to fines and possible criminal prosecution.

Among the costs incident in running a properly licensed gaming firm are the fees demanded by the licensing authority and taxes levied on revenue. The Northern Territory is viewed as a very desirable jurisdiction for gambling licensure because of its low fees and tax rates. This is changing, though, with the introduction of Point of Consumption taxes throughout Australia. PoC taxes are levied by the state in which the customer is located, so wagering firms cannot avoid them by managing their books out of a low-tax area like the Northern Territory.

List of Fees Charged by Northern Territory for BookmakersNorthern Territory Levies Lower Charges on Bookmakers Than Many Other Jurisdictions


Mass Exodus of Betting Enterprises

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The passage of the Interactive Gambling Amendment heralded the exit from Australia of several prominent sports betting concerns, like Pinnacle Sports and Intertops. The carnage was even worse for online poker sites because while it is possible for bookies to obtain licenses if they're willing to pay the fees and taxes involved, there's no licensing framework set up for internet poker, so the game is effectively banned. PokerStars, PartyPoker, and the Chico Poker Network are just a few of the poker businesses that have shut their doors to the Land Down Under.

Logos of Gaming Companies That Have Left AustraliaSome of the Gaming Companies That Have Exited Australia

There is a slight movement in the opposite direction, though, as some companies, watching their competitors depart, believe that they can pick up some easy market share. This was true of the Ignition Casino and Poker room, which opened its doors to Australians in July 2017.

Why Does the Racing Industry Care?

Logo of Racing Australia

Racing Australia wishes to promote licensed bookmaking entities for a reason that's all too common when it comes to gambling legalization and prohibition: money. You see, as part of the terms of their licenses, online sports and race wagering sites must pay a percentage of their revenue to the racing industry. When punters go to unregulated websites to place their bets, the Australian racing groups can't take their cut of the proceeds.

Responsible Wagering Australia represents the licensed online betting services that conduct business in the country. Its executive director, former MP Stephen Conroy, estimated that there's $1.3 billion per year in bets going to unlicensed offshore sites. This translates into millions in lost income for the Australian racing industry.

Why Are Offshore Sites Popular?

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It's important to note that none of the relevant statutes in Australian law penalize individual bettors except for the recently introduced strictures that apply only to those governed by Racing Australia. As a consequence of their immunity from legal prosecution, ordinary individuals tend to feel free to select the internet gambling sites that most appeal to them.

Screenshot of Bodog88Bodog88 Offers Sports Betting, Casino Action, and Poker to Australia's Citizens

Because the worldwide selection of racebooks and sportsbooks is much wider than that in just a single country, it's understandable that many gamblers choose solutions that are based abroad. The fact that these books aren't hamstrung by as many regulatory hurdles also means that they can offer a more diverse roster of bets and props. They don't have to pay taxes to Canberra or state capitals, which allows them to run more lucrative promotions and hand out larger bonuses. Finally, gamers looking to play casino titles and poker in addition to betting on contests can't scratch all of these itches with an AUS-licensed betting shop, but they very often can when they sign up at an all-in-one gambling portal headquartered elsewhere.

Still Possible to Bet Offshore

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Unless you're one of the relatively few people under the authority of Racing Australia, you can head online and create an account at an international site that supports sports betting, casino gameplay, and poker. We feel that the best such online destination is Bodog88. You can register your new account by following our Bodog88 registration link.

For a rundown of other reputable gaming sites, especially for internet card games, check out our Australia online poker overview.