Remote gambling

Types

Is remote gambling permitted and, if so, what types?

Under the 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 (see question 11).

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 federal government is currently reviewing whether to implement an internet filtering scheme whereby participating internet service providers would block illegal offshore wagering websites referred to them by the ACMA. This is still a proposed scheme but it is being considered as a measure to continue ensuring that illegal offshore wagering websites are not accessible to Australians. Further developments on this scheme are expected.

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. Australian licensed operators can therefore 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 up to 2019-20, to 26 per cent for 2020-21, and thereafter to 25 per cent)), GST 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 and Tasmania (although the latter is considering this), a POC tax payable as a percentage of the gambling revenue derived from customers located in the specific jurisdiction is applicable.

Wagering operators accepting bets on sporting and racing events will also be required to pay product fees charged by the relevant controlling bodies for the use of race field and sports fixture information.