History of Gambling in Australia: A Detailed Overview

The history of gambling in Australia traces back to the early 1800s. Initially, it started with simple horse racing bet practices and evolved over centuries into a multi-faceted industry. Today, it covers everything from old-school land-based establishments to online cryptocurrency casinos. The journey from rudimentary practices to a regulated industry of online gambling in Australia reflects technological advancements and shifts in cultural attitudes and government policies.

This article is dedicated to the development of gambling in Australia, highlighting the main milestones and current trends. Read our article to understand how AUS bookmakers and casinos have impacted the situation.

Key Historical Dates Influenced Australian Gambling Culture

The country has traced gambling growth since its colonial era, marked by significant historical dates. The evolving laws have shaped the nation`s betting culture. Some critical dates in the history of gambling in Australia include:

  • 1788: introduction of the two-up game by European settlers. European settlers introduced `two-up,` a coin game, marking the beginning of structured gambling in the country.
  • 1810: official horse racing begins. Governor Macquarie organized the first official horse race in Hyde Park, Sydney, laying the foundation for horse racing and different types of gambling.
  • 1842: establishment of the Australian Jockey Club (AJC). The AJC forms in Sydney, bringing formal organization to racing and betting.
  • 1861: first Melbourne Cup. The Victorian Racing Club organized the first Melbourne Cup, which evolved into the most prestigious Thoroughbred horse race, attracting a huge number of players.
  • 1913: world`s first automatic totalisator. Australian inventor George Julius developed a mechanical tote board, a revolutionary tool in the history of gambling.
  • 1916: introduction of The Golden Casket Lottery. It starts in Queensland, marking the beginning of official lottery games, initially to support war veterans.
  • 1956: introduction of Australian gambling laws for poker machines in NSW. New South Wales legalizes gaming machines in registered clubs and pubs, making a big difference.
  • 1973: opening of Wrest Point Casino in Sandy Bay. It was the oldest casino in Australia, broadening the interactive gambling services available to Australian citizens.
  • 1991: gambling legalized in Victoria. It led to the opening of Crown Casino in Melbourne in 1994 and other establishments throughout the state.
  • 2001: enactment of laws. The Australian government passed the Interactive Gambling Act to regulate the industry.
  • Present day. The Australian gambling statistics highly rank this industry, with a significant portion of adults engaged in various forms of wagering, including a growing interest in online casinos. Now, the statistics show one of the highest numbers of gambling per capita worldwide.

This development of gambling shows its evolution, reflecting changes in societal attitudes and significant legal and technological advancements. The journey from 1788 to the present illustrates a move towards a structured, regulated, and diverse industry.

Early Beginnings of Gambling in Australia

Gambling has been an integral part of Australian culture since the early days of European settlement. Various types of gambling have evolved, each with its unique history. Let`s explore the early beginnings of the main types:

  • Horse Racing. It dates back to the early 19th century. The first recorded race took place in 1810 in Hyde Park, Sydney. By the mid-1800s, it had become a popular pastime, with major races like the Melbourne Cup, first run in 1861, attracting significant public interest to sports events.
  • Lotteries. Regarding lotteries, the history of gambling in Australia began in the 1880s with George Adams` sweepstakes for the Sydney Cup. However, the official government-approved lottery started with the Golden Casket in Queensland in 1916 to raise funds for war efforts. Lotteries soon became a common method for states to raise funds for public projects.
  • Bookmaking. It has its roots in horse race wagering, where bookmakers take wagers at the racetracks. Over time, this expanded to include betting and even virtual sports options. The practice has been regulated and controlled to various degrees throughout the history of gambling in Australia.
  • Pokers. These games were introduced in Australia in 1956 and legalized in New South Wales. Pokers quickly became popular in pubs and clubs, offering a new form of gambling beyond traditional betting and bingo.
  • Poker Machines. These machines, a type of poker, emerged in Australia in the 1990s. They offered to play more complex games than the basic slot machines, including multiple paylines and additional features like free spins and bonus rounds.
  • Two-up. It is a traditional Australian game dating back to the 18th century with the arrival of the first European settlers. It involves tossing two coins and betting on the outcome. Initially a pastime among soldiers and miners, it has become a cultural icon, especially on ANZAC Day.

Each entertainment option has contributed to the history of gambling in Australia. They have evolved alongside social and technological progress and continue to adapt today.

History of Casinos in Australia

The legal casino industry has seen significant growth and evolution through a later addition to the country`s attitude. This journey has played a considerable role in shaping the modern entertainment and tourism sectors.

The First Casino and Early Developments

The history of gambling in Australia began in 1973 with the opening of the Wrest Point Hotel Casino in Hobart, Tasmania. This event marked the main shift in the sector, transitioning from small informal betting operations to a more formal and regulated industry

After the first casino in Australia, other states gradually recognized the potential economic benefits of legal casinos. This realization led to additional casinos nationwide, each offering a unique blend of gaming, entertainment, and hospitality services.

Notable Casinos in Australia

The history of gambling in the world proves that significant establishments have appeared in Australia over time. Some notable examples include:

  • Crown Casino Melbourne. This casino, opened in 1994, is the largest one in the country. It`s a gaming landmark for luxury accommodations, fine dining, and world-class entertainment.
  • Wrest Point Riviera Hotel. This new casino is known for its extensive gaming options, upscale hotels, and excellent views. It has also become a central establishment for major poker tournaments.
  • The Star Gold Coast. Located in Queensland, this establishment is part of a luxurious resort complex. It`s famous for its gaming facilities, live entertainment, and hosting of international events.

Today, Australia hosts over 20 active casinos, each offering various interactive gambling services to cater to local and international visitors. They all provide numerous games and amenities, such as restaurants, bars, and entertainment events.

Legalization and Policies

Legalizing casinos was a strategic move by the Australian government to boost local economies and tourism in Australia. Gambling laws differ in each state and territory. Key legislation includes the Casino Control Act and the Gaming Machines Act, which ensure ethical and fair gaming practices.

Casino policies are heavily focused on responsible gambling online. Measures are in place to prevent problem gambling, and BetStop is a national program that helps players self-exclude themselves from online gaming.

The Move to Online Gambling

The history of gambling in Australia has evolved to include the online sphere. This transition represents a significant shift in the nation`s gaming habits. The first casino sites catering to Australian gamblers emerged in the late 1990s, capitalizing on the increasing accessibility of the Internet and the growing interest in digital experiences.

The first casino in Australia was rudimentary by today`s standards but offered an exciting new way of wagering and gambling online. These sites typically featured basic versions of popular card games like blackjack, roulette, and poker machines. They also provided opportunities for sports betting, appealing to the national sports culture.

The history of gambling in the world shows that casinos expanded rapidly. Factors contributing to this include the convenience of playing from home, the availability of a wider variety of games than in traditional casinos, and the chance of potential winnings. Phone wagering services further accelerated this trend, allowing players to access their favorite games on smartphones and tablets.

The Future Growth of Online Gambling

Australian Gambling Market Overview by IMARC Group

According to IMARC`s comprehensive analysis, online gambling in Australia is at significant growth, driven by several forward-looking trends. Here is a short overview of them:

  • Phone wagering services. The increasing use of smartphones and tablets has led to an increase in the number of mobile AUS bookmakers and online casinos. This shift caters to the demand for convenient, on-the-go gaming experiences.
  • Integration of cryptocurrency. The adoption of cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin on online platforms is becoming more prevalent. It offers enhanced security, anonymity, and faster transaction times.
  • Innovative payment methods. Online AUS bookmakers and casinos are broadening their payment options, incorporating e-wallets, digital banking, and other modern methods. These give players more secure and efficient ways to deposit and withdraw funds.
  • Virtual and augmented reality gaming. The implementation of VR and AR technologies is set to transform various types of gambling, which offers more immersive and engaging gameplay.
  • Use of artificial intelligence. AI technology is used to customize the gaming experience, with algorithms analyzing player behavior to tailor game recommendations and promotions.

These trends highlight the evolving nature of online gambling in Australia, focusing on technological innovation and enhanced player experience.


How to gamble online in Australia?

First, find a reputable casino accepting Australian gamblers. Ensure it`s licensed and offers secure payment options. Register for an account, deposit funds, and choose from the available games or sporting events.

Is gambling illegal in Australia?

In Australia, gambling laws permit land-based establishments but prohibit online casinos. However, sports betting, lotteries, and racing are legal in Victoria when provided by licensed operators.

Is Two-up illegal in Australia?

Two-up is traditionally prohibited, except on ANZAC Day (April 25), when people play it in pubs and clubs nationwide to commemorate the national day of remembrance. This exception is a nod to the game`s historical significance, especially among soldiers during World Wars.

How many casinos are in Australia?

Since establishing Australia`s first casino, the industry has expanded to over 20 casinos. These establishments cover every state and territory, providing various gaming experiences. They range from smaller local establishments to large resort-style complexes.

How to open a casino in Australia?

According to casino gambling legislation in Australia, one must complete complex licensing procedures. Owners must first obtain a casino license from the Australian government. This process involves strict checks, including financial stability, business plans, and compliance with regulations.