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History of Gambling in Australia

Gambling and The Early Settlers

Gambling was brought to Australia with the new settlers and quickly became a popular leisure activity among all social groups. The pronounced British influence of early gambling such as poker card games, two-up and horseracing was complemented during the nineteenth century by games with Asian and European influences. This was a new community which largely depended on each other. Many of the original forms of gambling were initially prohibited. They were later legalized and are now accessible to adult Australians on a daily basis.

Australian Online Casinos

The online casino arena is still a grey one Down Under, but a flourishing one nonetheless. The Australian government regularly attempts to raise the idea of regulation in order to take their slice of the pie from offshore casinos, but this has not happened yet. Australians are finding more and more sites that offer them play at an Australian online casino with Australian currency, support and a great variety of games.

Horseracing in Australia

Horseracing was the first form of organized gambling in Australia. By the late nineteenth century, horseracing had become a popular form of entertainment with racetracks in every major town. Greyhound and harness racing also attracted enthusiastic supporters but never attained the same popularity as horseracing. Betting activity was associated with the development of racing, initially with local bookmakers. By the 1890s the totalisator had been introduced to racecourses in several states, increasing both track attendance and interest in betting.

Australian Off-course Betting

With the development of telephones and radio broadcasting, illegal off-course SP betting proliferated during the 1930-60s, creating problems of corruption and depriving the state governments of revenue. To counteract illegal betting, state governments progressively introduced off-course Totalisator Agency Boards (TABs). By the 1970s betting was the most popular form of gambling in Australia, generating large gambling-tax revenues for state governments.

Technology Changes the Face of Australian Gambling

The introduction of PubTAB, FootyTAB and satellite telecasting through the SKY Channel encouraged market growth during the 1980s and 1990s. From its inception as a largely community-based leisure activity, racing and betting have become a multimillion dollar industry. However, competition from other forms of gambling, notably casinos and gaming machines, eroded the market share of racing during the 1990s.

Sportsbetting in Australia

Sportsbetting was illegal until the 1980s, although this did not stop many Australians from betting on cricket, football, boxing and other sports. Since then a limited amount of sportsbetting and FootyTAB has been allowed through TABs and, more recently, licensed bookmakers. Internet sportsbetting was legalized in the Northern Territory in 1996 and subsequently in other states.

Australian Lotteries

The first lotteries were established in Sydney in the 1880s as privately run Tattersall's sweepstakes. Prohibition by various governments forced the Tattersall's lotteries to Queensland, then Tasmania and eventually to Victoria. Until the Northern Territory introduced a private lottery in 1996 Tattersall's was the only private lottery in Australia.

Australian Soccer Pools

Privately owned soccer pools, loosely based on the British game, were introduced during the 1970s. In 1981 Tattersall's established the Australian Lotto Bloc, combining prize pools from Victoria, Tasmania, the ACT, the Northern Territory, South Australia and Western Australia. Tattersall's also was authorized to operate Lotto in Queensland. In 1993 an agreement with NSW Lotto resulted in the establishment of a national Lotto network.

Casinos in Australia

All Australian casinos are regional monopolies and most are owned and operated by Australian companies. The Adelaide Casino is publicly owned; the Darwin MGM Grand Hotel Casino is a subsidiary of the Las Vegas MGM Grand. Casino gambling has proved to be highly popular with Australians, with expenditure increasing steadily during the 1980s and early 1990s. Casino gambling is now a legitimate entertainment enjoyed by many Australians and a major feature of Australia's tourism industry.

The Australian Pokies

Legal poker machines were first allowed in NSW registered clubs in 1956 to generate income for improved facilities and amenities for members. Poker machine gambling became extremely popular with NSW. Today Australians can play online pokies from wherever they are at many online casinos all over the web.

Gambling Revenue in Australia

Gambling is a stable and growing source of state government revenue. The reliance of state and territory governments upon gambling taxation revenue and interstate rivalry for a share of the gambling market have become contributing factors in the overall development and expansion of gambling.

Asian Gambling Influences

Traditional Asian gambling was brought to Australia in the 1840s by Chinese settlers and spread through the goldfields and then to the major cities. Aboriginal gambling, particularly card playing, also has been widespread in Asian communities.
History of Gambling In Australia