Online casino games and slot machines using real money are illegal in Australia, so if you come across a site offering these games online, it is most likely they are operated in another country even though they look Australian.
Overseas gambling websites are illegal in Australia, and people who use them face additional risks than when they gamble with a licensed Australian operator.
Some illegal overseas gambling sites look legitimate, and they even look like they are Australian by using images such as the Australian flag and native animals. These sites are not allowed under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, that is, they are not licensed or regulated in Australia and they don't have consumer safeguards in place.
Illegal overseas gambling sites can include
- casino-style games
- slot machines
- betting on the outcome of lotteries or keno (‘synthetic’ lotteries)
- services that provide ‘in-play’ betting on sports events
- wagering services not licensed by an Australian state or territory
These services may look legitimate, and many people will be unaware that they do not have important customer protections.
The risks of using these sites are high. Here are some real-life examples that customers have complained to the Australian Communications and Media Authority about:
- Illegal operators let you deposit money into your account on their website or app, but if you win you can’t access your winnings.
- Illegal operators closing their services, or moving them elsewhere, and your money disappears.
- After you stop using an illegal operator, it continues to withdraw funds from your bank account, without your permission.
Unfortunately, due to the nature of these companies and where they are located, you are unlikely to see your money again in these situations.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority has more information about illegal gambling services and how to report them on their website: https://www.acma.gov.au/protect-yourself-illegal-gambling-operators
The impacts of Covid-19
Understanding the risks of using overseas gambling websites has never been more important.
With many sports suspended, and pubs, clubs and casinos temporarily closed, there is a risk that more people will gamble online, and that some people will use overseas websites that offer online casino games and slot machines, not knowing they are not allowed in Australia.
However, it's also important to understand how to stay safe while gambling online even with licensed Australian operators. Many operators have appealing marketing and tempting offers and are promoting novel bets on things like the weather, or even house prices. Read more about staying safe while gambling online here.