The views of this article are the perspective of the author and may not be reflective of Confessions of the Professions.
History of Australian Gambling: Then And Now
Do you like to spend your evenings holding a glass of bourbon and smoke a cigar, or could it be that you enjoy sitting in the casino play blackjack? Every avid Australian casino goer knows that the Australian gambling has come a long way for it to be recognized as the paradise for those who cannot live without spinning a roulette at least once in the evening. The team of Casinority has prepared huge infographics to let you know how gambling came to be recognized in Australia as number one favorite activity.
Small But Significant Details
Of course, you may be fully aware that betting was not legalized up until 1956, but did you know that the very first slots, which we all know and love, have appeared as early as in 1900? Even during this period the government of the country was already aware of how profitable it would be for this whole thing to bring money to the country as it has not wasted any time to organize the first government lottery in 1916 in Queensland.
Rules and Regulations
Since then, the betting has had quite a few bumps along the way, but, despite all odds, here we are. Now, Australia is the land of pokies, the continent of countless online casinos of all types and sizes. This, of course, would not have been possible without proper regulation. Besides the fact that a sizable part of country’s profit comes from gambling, every region of Australia has its own regulations which cover even the tiniest details concerning Aussie’s betting habits as well as starting your own casino business in the country.
Remember, if you see your future as a part of betting culture, or just like like to spend several evenings in the world’s top class casinos, Australia is a sure bet. Check out the amazing infographics prepared by Casinority and learn for yourself how deep the rabbithole of Australian gambling history goes.
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AUSTRALIAN GAMBLING HISTORY
100 OUTSTANDING FACTS REVEALING THE TRUTH
- HISTORY OF MODERN GAMBLING: The history of modern gambling in Australia began with settlers of the 19th century, particularly Chinese settlers in the 1840s.
- THE FIRST SLOT MACHINE: The first slot machines appeared in the early 1900s in Australia. At first they were illegal.
- CLUBMAN: Clubman is the first Australian slot machine. It was produced by company «Aristocrat» and designed by Joe Heywood.
- LEGALIZED: 1956 is the significant year for gambling industry in Australia. It was the year when the government of NSW legalized gaming machines in registered clubs.
- FIRST INTERNET CASINOS: The first Internet casinos opened and delivered in the early 1990s.
- THE GAMING CLUB: The Gaming Club was one of the earliest casinos, and it is still in operation today.
- FIRST GAMBLING AUTHORIZED: Was the first form of authorized Australian gambling in history starting from 19th century.
- THE FIRST BETTING TERMINAL: The 1890s – the first betting terminal has been set which increased the race attendance and interest rates.
- RACE WAGERING: In 1913 one of the major developments in race wagering, the automatic totalisator, which allowed the automatic calculation of race odds given betting patterns, was invented in Australia by George Julius.
- BETS AND STAKES: The 1970s – bets and stakes have become the most popular form of gambling in Australia, bringing huge profits to the state.
- THOROUGHBRED RACING: Thoroughbred racing is the third most attended spectator sport in Australia, behind Australian rules football and rugby league.
- $14.3 BILLION: The wagered money in 2009-2010.
- LEADING INCOME: Nowadays, Australia is one of the leading countries in the world in terms of income from betting, which is $7.3 billion.
- CAMERAS, TOTALIZATORS, GATES: Now it is well-appointed with automatic totalizators, starting gates, and photo finish cameras on nearly all Australian racecourses.
- DISTRIBUTED ANNUALLY: Australia is third, after the U.S. and Japan of the amount of prize money that is distributed annually.
- LICENSED BOOKMAKERS: Licensed on-track bookmakers offer fixed-odds betting, mostly on wins and places. Off-track betting was traditionally controlled by the various state government through organisation called “Totalisator Agency Boards” (TAB).
- DISTRIBUTED ANNUALLY: Many of “TABS” have now been privatised, and many pubs now offer better services linked to the privatised offshoots of the companies.
- LICENSED BOOKMAKERS: In some parts of Australia there was a tradition of illegal off-course bookmaking, known as SP bookmaking.
- EASE OF USE: In recent years, corporate bookmakers operating online and through mobile apps have become increasingly popular through various specials, promotion and ease of use.
- FIRST LOTTERY: The first lottery in Australian gambling history was established in Sydney in 1880 and carried out by a private company Tattersall’s.
- ILLEGAL SWEEPSTAKES: The earliest ones were illegal sweepstakes that would jump from one state to the next, as the authorities closed in.
- GOVERNMENT LOTTERY: The first government lottery was Golden Casket, organized in Queensland in 1916 with the aim of raising funds for veterans of World War I and other charitable and public purposes.
- MODERN LOTTERY: The first modern Australian lottery was created in the early 1970s. It was known as the “Tattslotto” draw and was offered in the state of Victoria. The idea was that the lottery would help raise funds for the state health system.
- $50.000: The first prize was $50,000.
- LOTTO BLOCK: In 1981, Tattersall’s organized Australian Lotto Block.
- SIX BALLS AND A BONUS BALL: For many years this was a standard “six balls and a bonus ball” lottery, with the main balls being drawn from a pot of 40. In 1985, this was increased to 45.
- NSW LOTTO: In 1993, as a result of the agreement with Lotto in New South Wales (NSW Lotto) a national network of bingo has been established.
- ILLEGAL SWEEPSTAKES: The major players in the lotteries industry divided into 4 operators: Tatts Group Limited, Intralot Australia, Jumbo Interactive, Netlotto.
- TATTS GROUP LIMITED: Only the Tatts Group Limited is official Government licensed operator in Australia.
- MINIMUM AGE: The minimum age to purchase lottery products is 18 in all states except for Western Australia, where the age is lowered to 16.
- BANNED: Until 1973, casinos were banned. It was believed that casinos were difficult to control, and they were a destructive force to society.
- CASINO AS A MEANS OF EVOLVEMENT: The reason for opening the commercial casinos was the desire to speed up the pace of development.
- MEET THE FIRST LEGAL POKIES: The first casinos in Australia were the clubs of New South Wales (1956). It was the first chance to play pokies legal.
- THE FIRST LEGAL CASINO FOR GAMBLERS: Wrest Point Hotel Casino was opened on 10 of February 1973, and it was the first legal casino in Australia. It is still operating today.
- GAMBLING CENTRE IN AUSTRALIA: The biggest game center in Australian gambling history is the Crown Entertainment Complex, located in Melbourne, with its 350 tables and 5,000 slots.
- PARADISE FOR THE GAMBLER: Australia has 15 large casinos, which are improved each year and at the moment they are the most luxurious and modern in the world.
- MYSTERIOUS WORD – “POKIES”: Until 1973, casinos were banned. It was believed that casinos were difficult to control, and they were a destructive force to society.
- FIRST LEGAL POKIES: The reason for opening the commercial casinos was the desire to speed up the pace of development.
- SLOT MACHINES ARE TAKING LEADING POSITIONS: The first casinos in Australia were the clubs of New South Wales (1956). It was the first chance to play pokies legal.
- THE FIRST VIDEO POKIES: Wrest Point Hotel Casino was opened on 10 of February 1973, and it was the first legal casino in Australia. It is still operating today.
- SLOT MACHINES ARE TAKING LEADING POSITIONS: According to statistics, about a quarter of all the slot machines in the world are in Australia, more than 50% of them – in new South Wales.
- POKER SLOTS GIVE MORE THAN 50% OF THE REVENUE: More than half of all government revenue from gambling comes into the coffers through taxation of the poker slots.
- ONLINE POKIES: Only in 2004 Microgaming released Thunderstruck, so Australian style pokies became available online. The important chapter in the history of pokies is the move to mobile gambing. With the invention of the smartphone and tablets people can now play and win on the pokies anywhere and at any time.
- MORE POKIES THAN ANYWHERE: Australia has more pokies per capita compares to every country in the world.
NEW SOUTH WALES
PIONEERS AND GROUNDBREAKERS
- A TWO-UP GAME: Within a few years of the First Fleet’s arrival in 1788, the convicts had developed a coin game called two-up, the first gambling in Australia.
- THE FIRST LEGAL HORSE RACING: The first certified horse racing in Australian gambling history was held in 181 at Hyde Park in Sydney
- THE MELBOURNE CUP: In a big to capitalize on the money and interest associated with the sport at the time, in 1861 the Victorian Turf Club came up with the idea to hold a little race called the Melbourne Cup.
- GEORGE ADAMS AND HIS FIRST TRUE LOTTERY GAME: George Adams, the founder of Tattersall’s, is widely credited with creating the first true lottery game in Australia, when he put together sweepstakes for the 1881 Sydney Cup.
- AUTO-TOTE MACHINES: By the mid-1930s, auto-tote machines had been installed all over Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
- MANUAL CALCULATIONS OF BETS: Up until the early 20th century, trackside betting at racecourses had to be calculated manually by the booksters.
- THE FIRST AUTOMATIC TOTALISATOR: An inventor and engineer by the name of George Julius invented the first automatic totalisator shortly before World War I.
- LAUNCHING THE FIRST OFFICIAL LOTTERY: It was during the war that the Australian government decided to launch its first official lottery.
- THE INTRODUCTION OF SOCCER POOLS: Privately owned soccer pools, loosely based on the British game, were introduced during the 1970s.
- CASINOS HELPED THE ECONOMY PROSPER: The introduction of casinos int eh first phase was closely tied to the period of economic downturn in the 1970s and the attempt by underdeveloped states to revitalise flagging economies.
For every region – its own rules!
Australia Capital Territory – ACT Gambling and Racing Commission was created in 1999.
- Northern Territory – Licensing Commission
- Western Australia – Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor
- Queensland – Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation
- New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing
- South Australia – Independent Gambling Authority
- Victoria – Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation
- New South Wales Office of Liquor, Gaming and Racing
The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 (IGA) was passed to protect Australian residents from the potentially harmful effects of online gambling.
- State and territory governments increasingly rely on gambling tax for revenue
- Victoria and South Australia collected the largest annual profit from gambling per capita – $350 and $300 respectively
- Gambling is not considered a profession, it’s treated as a hobby or recreational activity so winners are not taxed
- Australian palyers are not required to pay tax on money they win betting on sports
- The government taxes gambling operators instead
- There are taxes on the turnover, player loss and net profit
TWO SIDES OF THE SAME COIN: POSITIVE AND NEGATIVE FACTS
- The average return of all gaming machines across the “full course of combinations” is about 90 percent
- Revenue from gaming machines in pubs and clubs accounts for more than half of the $4 billion in gambling revenue collected by state governments in fiscal year
- Fairfield is the most profitable region in terms of gambling. The highest revenues from pokies were recorded as recently as 2013, generating A$391 million in just a 9-month period, largest sum in Australian gambling history ever
- In 2010-11, venues in Gosford made approximately $95,865,000 in profit from pokies
- In 2010-11, venues in Wyong made approximately $123,159,000 in profit from pokies
- The highest jackpot you can win in a pub is $10,000
- The online wagering and sports betting industry in Australia employs more than 1000
- Sportsbetting represented just 3% of Australia’s Total Annual Gambling Spend in Australia in 2013/14, with racing accounting for 13.2%
- Annual gaming machine losses per player average about $3,700 in New South Wales, $3,100 in Victoria, and $1,800 in Queensland
- Annual revenue per electronic gaming machine was around $59,700 in 2008-09 with average revenue per venue around $2.1 million
- Positive consequences for Indigenous Australians who gamble include social engagement and social acceptance, reduced isolation, pleasure, physical comfort, an opportunity to win money, and some reduced alcohol consumption
- In 2003 / 2004 gamblers lost $16.21 billion ($9.1 billion on pokies)
- The gambling industry is a big business in Australia, with Australians losing $15 billion on gambling a year
- In Hunter Region daily figures show a spend of $12.5 million, working out to be $8682 per minute
- Victorians are spending almost half a million dollars on poker machines during busy periods, with problem gamblers estimated to be losing up to $4.7 million a day
- AWC members provide betting or wagering services on racing and sport over the Internet or by telephone for over 2 million Australians
- $1.5 billion on pokies was spent in Wyong by players
- The average player loses $380 every year
- Total recorded losses through gambling in Australia reached just over $19 billion in 2008 -09 (an average of $1,500 per gambler and a share of household consumption of 3.1 percent)
- Regular gaming machine players (those that play at least once a week) are estimated to spend on average about $7,000 to $8,000 per annum.
- “High-intensity” punters can spend $1500 or more in an hour
- The average problem gambler loses $12,000 each year
- A 2008 survey found that gambling was the most common motivation for fraud and that the average loss was $1.1 million per incident
- The social cost of problem gambling is at least $4.7 billion a year. The harms from problem gambling can include suicide, depression, relationship breakdown, lowered work productivity, job loss, bankruptcy, and crime
FROM OFFLINE TO ONLINE
- Online gaming is the fastest growing form of gambling in Australian history
- Online gambling opportunities for Aussies are excellent, as the IGA does not specifically prohibit Australian gamblers from playing at online casinos
- Online sports betting in the country is legal provided that it is associated with a land-based business
- All online lotteries are permitted except for keno-style games, scratch tickets, and instant lotteries
- BUT, in-play sports betting is classed as “interactive” gambling, therefore falling under the IGA and making it illegal for Australian online bookmakers to offer it to residents.