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Is Poker Legal in Australia?
Online poker is legal in Australia for some online poker operators. Until 2001 there wasn’t a lot of restrictions on online poker or any other type of online gambling for that matter. However, in 2001, the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 was introduced. Known more commonly now as the IGA, this complete piece of legislation made it illegal for any online casino or online poker sites not located within Australia to offer games to Australian residents.
That means that poker sites, not players, that are located outside of Australia aren’t supposed to allow any Australian poker players at their sites but, they do. In addition to that bit of legislation, the IGA also prevented new sites from obtaining licences to operate from within Australia. Lassetters was at the time the only legally operating casino in Australia so that Australian poker site and / or Australian casino was permitted to legally continue to operate, giving them a monopoly over Australian gambling revenue with the exception of sports betting.
Sports betting is still allowed regardless of where the betting operation is located.
Australians aren’t prohibited from playing at Mainstream Poker Sites
The thing about the IGA in Australia though is that it doesn’t change the law for players. There are no provisions for being the bettor and actually playing poker online. It’s a law that affects the poker sites, making it illegal for them to allow Australians to visit their sites, not making it illegal for Australians to actually log on and play.
How is Poker Taxed in Australia?
In Australia poker winnings are not taxed. They fall under the category of gambling profits and are therefore tax free. Imagine the enormous amounts of income some Australian poker players are bringing in, completely tax free.
Of course we can’t all be like Joe Hachem, the current #1 Australian cashing poker player ever who resides in Melbourne, Australia. Poker millionaire Joe Hachem, also known as Hash, took 1st place at the WSOP Main Event in 2005 winning a record breaking $7.5million and has total winnings to date of $11,707,569.
If poker isn’t a business in Australia, expenses aren’t deductible.
The downside of this though is that playing poker at online poker sites is not commonly considered a business and therefore expenses incurred while traveling for business, buying tracking software etc. are not automatically tax deductible for most pro and semi-pro poker players.
There have been private rulings on the matter however wherein a players poker earnings were considered a business after the player produced records proving businesslike tracking and accounting systems, profit and loss charts, excel sheets, poker tracking software and all of the other things that really do turn poker into a business rather than a hobby.
Poker Popularity in Australia
Any one in any country that has ever watched a World Series of Poker Main event that included an Australian finishing deep knows that Australian, or shall we say ‘Aussie Aussie Aussie’ poker players are popular among Australians, the question is though, how popular is poker in Australia?
Well, according to MarketWatch ‘IBIS World reports that the gambling market is projected to grow by 3.3% this year’. The industry will earn around $22.5 billion in revenue. I spelled that out for you so you wouldn’t have to count zeros, it is BILLION. A projected 60.2% of betting revenue is said to be poker revenue.
Based on those numbers, I’d say poker is a pretty popular game amongst Aussies.
Safety and Security on Australian Poker Sites
Keeping in mind that only one Australian poker site is licenced and legally operating within Australia it follows that most Australian based poker sites, if they even exist, are not being regulated by the Government in Australia, right?
With that in mind, the safe bet is going to be to play at poker sites that accept Australian poker players that are large, well known and publicly traded. Sites that have been around since dirt was invented, have a reputation for honesty and secure transactions. Australian poker players want to play at sites that offer them the most security; sites with land-based shops are a good bet.
Preferred Currencies for Australian Poker Players
The most obvious choice for Australian players is the AUD, which unfortunately is not the norm at most poker sites. Although playing in your own currency would surely make calculating bets at the table a whole lot easier, it’s surprising how quickly you become adept at converting from $US which is the default currency at most poker sites.