Is remote gambling permitted and, if so, what types?
Under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA), there is a general prohibition on the supply and advertising of online gambling services to persons present in Australia, unless the service is a regulated interactive gambling service and a regulatory authority in an Australian jurisdiction licenses the gambling service provider.
Regulated interactive gambling services include online sports betting, wagering and lotteries. Online casino gaming, poker and other gaming services are generally prohibited in Australia. Lottery betting is also now prohibited in Australia after legislation making this type of betting activity illegal came into effect in January 2019. Generally, licensed operators may offer remote or online gambling services without any distinction between online platforms or devices (eg, mobile or tablets) on which the gambling service is offered to customers.Licensing
What are the criteria for obtaining a licence to operate remote gambling?
The criteria for obtaining a remote gambling licence will depend on the type of licence (and the type of gambling service to be provided) and the jurisdiction in which the licence is sought. For simplicity, we have focused on the criteria required to obtain a sports bookmaking licence.
Generally, in order to obtain a licence, applicants must be a corporate entity registered in Australia under the Corporations Act 2001 (Cth), and must demonstrate financial viability and sustainability (of both the company and shareholders), provide a clear business plan for conducting business in Australia, and meet certain probity and suitability criteria to the satisfaction of the relevant licensing authority.
How do the licensing criteria for remote gambling operators differ from those applicable to land-based operators?
Generally, the licensing criteria for remote gambling operators is the same as for land-based operators, although a higher burden of proof is generally expected of land-based gambling operators as a result of the exclusivity awarded.Cross-border gambling
May operators located in other countries offer internet gambling to consumers in your jurisdiction without obtaining a licence there?
The IGA strictly prohibits the provision of any online or remote gambling services to residents in Australia unless the operator holds a licence to provide those services granted by a regulatory authority in an Australian jurisdiction. Any provision of ‘offshore’ internet gambling is an offence under the IGA.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), in November 2019, issued a statement confirming that blocking of illegal offshore online gambling operators providing services to persons located in Australia would be implemented. The ACMA has requested that Australian internet service providers block websites of offshore online gambling operators considered to be operating illegally in Australia. This measure has gone further than originally contemplated since, although it was meant to be implemented solely against offshore online wagering providers, it is now being applied to websites associated with illegal offshore online gambling providers.
May operators licensed in your jurisdiction offer internet gambling to consumers in other countries?
The IGA contains a prohibition on the provision of online gambling services to residents in specified overseas jurisdictions. However, to date, no countries have been specified on this list of prohibited countries. As a matter of Australian law, Australian licensed operators can provide their services to consumers in other countries, but will need to consider the extent to which local laws may be applicable. For example, an Australian licensed operator would still need to obtain a remote gambling licence from the UK Gambling Commission if it offers its services to UK customers.Taxes
What tax rate applies to each form of remote gambling?
General Australian taxation requirements apply, including the requirement to pay corporate income tax (currently 30 per cent (but capable of reduction to 27.5 per cent for 2019–20, to 26 per cent for 2020–21, and thereafter to 25 per cent)), goods and services tax of 10 per cent on all sales, and payroll tax.
Remote gambling operators are also required to pay gambling taxes calculated as a percentage of revenue (as set out in the licence conditions and legislation, and enforced by the relevant licensing authority). In all states and territories, except for the Northern Territory, a point of consumption tax is payable by online wagering operators as a percentage of the gambling revenue derived from customers located in the specific jurisdiction.
Wagering operators accepting bets on sporting and racing events are also required to pay product fees charged by the relevant controlling bodies for the use of race field and sports fixture information.