A Brief History of Gambling in Australia

A Brief History of Gambling in Australia

When talking about the best places for gambling in the world, we all usually think of Las Vegas and Macau. However, this activity is so widespread, and there’s hardly a corner on the planet where you can’t play a game of poker or spin a slot machine.

One of the places that are often overlooked in the eyes of gamblers is Australia. Not only that the country is a great place to gamble at right now, but it also has a prestigious casino history. If you’re not familiar with it, it’s time to get to know it.

Where it all began

If we want to talk about gambling in Australia, we have to start with the first recording of an official gambling event in the country. While the first legal casino opened in 1973 in Tasmania, gambling has been present long before. 

As you can imagine, European settlers who headed south all brought something from their home countries, including gambling games. Anything that was popular in Europe at the time, traveled with them to Australia. This includes games like poker and roulette that still remain the most popular in the casino industry.

One of those gambling traditions they brought was betting on horse racing. That’s what’s considered to be the earliest recording of gambling on Australian soil. It took place in 1810 at Hyde Park, 40 years after Captain James Cook landed on the continent for the first time.

Another popular form of betting brought by the settlers was the lottery. It was held officially for the first time in 1880.

The pokies era

Slot and poker machines have played a massive role in the history of gambling across the world. They were present everywhere since the 1880s, and they later evolved into electronic video gambling machines.

In Australia, these things have made a lot of noise during the 1950s. That’s when poker machines or “pokies” as they’re often referred to, have risen to prominence. Once the New South Wales Gambling and Betting Bill was introduced, more and more players started showing up in their local clubs and pubs.

This has turned a major profit for the industry, and that’s when haggling really took off in Australia. There are numerous reasons why this turned out to be the case. The most prominent among them was the fact that these machines enjoyed more liberal trading hours. Also, machines were considered more socially acceptable than other forms of gambling.

With pokies attracting so much attention, it was only a matter of time when someone would start making some serious money designing them. That’s what Len Ainsworth did, as he set up his Aristocrat Leisure Company. The business was a major success, and it became the country’s biggest manufacturer of these machines.

Casinos in Darwin

We can’t talk about gambling in Australia without mentioning Darwin. This place became another gambling landmark once Skycity Casino was granted a license for operation in 1979.

The casino opened four years later under a new name – Mindil Beach Casino. If you haven’t heard of it, that’s okay. It changed its name numerous times throughout history. It was called Diamond Beach Hotel and MGM Grand Darwin for brief periods of time.

In 2004, the Skycity Entertainment Group bought it and gave it its current name. It was a huge deal worth $195 million.

The Skycity Casino remains the only casino in Darwin, and it’s still one of the most famous gambling hun, not only in Australia but in the entire world. It has over 700 pokie machines and 30 casino table games ready for players. It’s also a luxury hold with 154 breathtaking rooms.

Online gambling

Another breakout point in gambling history was the emergence of the internet. Although it took a while for the first online casinos to emerge, they sure became a huge hit.

As soon as gambling on the internet became a thing, the government in Australia passed the Interactive Gaming Act (IGA). This act from 2001 was introduced to control all online gambling in the country.

The IGA didn’t criminalize this activity online, but it brought some important regulations to it. Penalties were introduced to companies offering their games to players in Australia, while the same didn’t go for those targeting players from abroad (with some exceptions).

The act also carved out some important forms for sports betting.

While there have been efforts to tighten and loosen online gambling laws in Australia, they haven’t changed a lot over the years.

Gambling is still considered a pastime rather than a profession, meaning that Aussies don’t have to pay tax money on casino games and sports betting.

Today, there are hundreds of sites where players from Australia, together with those from all over the world, can play their favorite online casino games. Some of them specialize in certain types of games, but like in other countries, there are plenty of casinos offering all online gambling variants.

Wrap up

Gambling has always been a significant factor in our everyday lives, and it has been present in Australia ever since the first settlers arrived. The entire industry has evolved over time, and the Land Down Under is now a fantastic place for any gambling enthusiast.

From the Crown Casino in Melbourne to The Star in Sydney, there are just so many attractions for players from across the world. If you’re fond of the activity, Australia is, without a doubt, a prime destination to check out.

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