Gambling is an activity undertaken by many Australians. In 2022, 72.8% of Australian adults gambled within the previous 12 months (80.5% for men and 66.2% for women) and 38% of Australian adults gambled at least once per week (48% for men and 28% for women).[1] In 2017, Australians were estimated to lead the world with the highest gambling losses on a per-capita basis.[2]

On a per-capita basis, Australians placed gambling bets worth AUD$9,885 in financial year 2020-2021, resulting in a loss of AUD$1,200.[3] Australians cumulatively placed bets worth AUD$198 billion in this financial year, resulting in a total loss of AUD$24 billion.[3]

Total employment in the gambling industry in Australia (thousands of people) since 1984

Gambling is a significant public health issue, with around 80,000 to 160,000 (or 0.5–1.0%) of Australian adults experiencing significant problems from gambling and a further 250,000 to 350,000 (or 1.4–2.1% of adults) experiencing moderate risks that may make them vulnerable to problem gambling.[4]


In 2015–16, gambling revenue made up 7.7% of state and territory taxation revenue. The rate was lowest in Western Australia (2.5%) and highest in the Northern Territory (12.0%). Gambling revenue made up 2.5% of total state revenue when other revenue sources were taken into account. The rate was lowest in WA (0.9%) and highest in Victoria (3.2%). Gambling revenue as a portion of state taxation revenue has fallen for all states and territories between 2006–07 and 2015–16.[5]

Total Australian gambling revenue in 2008–09 was just over $19 billion and the share of household consumption was 3.1%.[4] According to the Queensland Government the total Australian gambling market was worth over $25 billion in 2019.[6] During the pandemic in 2020 and 2021 the proportion of online gamblers rose to 78% while half of the Australians gamble on a regular basis.

Forms of gambling

Electronic gaming machines

Electronic gaming machines are commonly referred to within Australia as "pokies" or "poker machines". Electronic gaming machines are operated in all states of Australia as well as the Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory. Each jurisdiction separately regulates the design and operation of electronic gaming machines. In the financial year 2020-2021, Australians placed bets worth almost AUD$150 billion through electronic gaming machines, resulting in a total player loss of AUD$12 billion for the year.[3] Per-capita, losses for financial year 2020-2021 were AUD$608, amounting to approximately half of the AUD$1200 losses per-capita for all forms of gambling.[3]

Prevalence and use of electronic gaming machines within Australia
Jurisdiction Number of machines Number of operating venues Total annual player turnover


Player annual turnover per capita


Total annual player losses Player annual losses per capita
New South Wales 87298 (excluding casinos, June 2023)[7][8] 2195 (excluding casinos, June 2023)[7][8] AUD$85.72 billion AUD$13559 AUD$8.18 billion (excluding casinos, FY22-23)[9][10][7][8] AUD$986 (excluding casinos, FY22-23)[9][10][7][8][11]
Northern Territory 1659 limit (excluding casinos)[12] 75 limit (excluding casinos)[12] AUD$1.65 billion AUD$8825 AUD$0.15 billion (FY20-21)[3] AUD$789 (FY20-21)[3]
Queensland 21122 operating (October 2023)[13]

23997 approved (October 2023)[13]

351 operating (October 2023)[13]

359 approved (October 2023)[13]

AUD$32.34 billion AUD$8057 AUD$3.49 billion (FY22-23)[14] AUD$645 (FY22-23)[14][11]
South Australia 11672 (excluding Adelaide Casino, September 2023)[15] 471 (excluding Adelaide Casino, September 2023)[15] AUD$8.68 billion AUD$6087 AUD$0.92 billion (excluding Adelaide Casino, FY22-23)[16] AUD$497 (excluding Adelaide Casino, FY22-23)[16][11]
Victoria 26380 (excluding Crown Casino, 2021-2022)[17]

30000 limit[18]

488 (excluding Crown Casino, 2021-2022)[19] AUD$17.65 billion AUD$3420 AUD$3.02 billion (FY22-23)[20] AUD$446 (FY22-23)[20][11]
Australian Capital Territory 3587 operating (1 November 2023)[21]

5091 approved (1 November 2023)[21]

46 (1 November 2023)[21] AUD$1.87 billion AUD$5284 AUD$0.19 billion (FY22-23)[22] AUD$405 (FY22-23)[22][11]
Australia (combined) AUD$147.91 billion AUD$7385 AUD$12.18 billion (FY20-21)[3] AUD$608 (FY20-21)[3]
Regulated configuration of electronic gaming machines within Australia
Jurisdiction Minimum long-term return to player[23] Maximum bet[23] Maximum bet frequency
New South Wales 85%[24] AUD$10.00
Northern Territory 85% AUD$5.00 (general)

Unlimited (casinos)

Queensland 85%[25] AUD$5.00 (general)

Unlimited (casinos)

3 seconds[26]
South Australia 87.5%[27] AUD$5.00 (general)

Unlimited (Adelaide Casino)

Australian Capital Territory 87% AUD$10.00
Victoria 85% (general)[28]

87% (Crown Melbourne)

AUD$5.00 (general)[29][30]

Unlimited (Crown Melbourne)[31]

2.14 seconds[32]
Tasmania 87%[33] AUD$5.00[33] 3 seconds[33]
Western Australia 90% Unlimited (Crown Perth)

New South Wales

New South Wales has a long history of gambling; Australia's first official horse racing meeting occurred in 1810 at Hyde Park in Sydney; the first official Australian lottery occurred in 1881 at the Sydney Cup; and registered clubs operated the first legal poker machines in Australia from 1956.[34]

There are approximately 95,800 "pokies" in NSW, a state total beaten only by Nevada, which operated 181,109 gambling machines in 2014.[35]

Between 1 December 2017 and 31 May 2018 NSW Clubs made a net profit of $1,945,161,625 and hotels made a net profit of $1,169,040,731 from pokies alone.[36]


Fairfield had the highest poker machine revenue in the state for 2013, generating $298 million in clubs and $93 million in pubs, from the start of the year to August.[37] This figure is $123 million greater than the combined total of profits generated from poker machines in the City of Sydney.[37]

Hunter Region

From January to March 2013 poker machines in the Hunter region had a turn over of $4.5 billion, showing an increase of $500 million since 2010.[38] Daily figures show a spend of $12.5 million, working out to be $8682 per minute.[38] The Office of Liquor Gaming and Racing found that Newcastle was the Hunter Regions most profitable location with the 3206 poker machines averaging $44,963 each.[38] The top five most profitable clubs for gaming revenue in the Hunter region in 2010 were:[39]

The top five most profitable hotels for gaming revenue in the Hunter region in 2010 were.[39]

Central Coast Region

According to the latest figures from Liquor and Gaming NSW there are 4,046 poker machines in 39 clubs on the Central Coast, and 626 poker machines in 29 hotels; making a total of 4,672 poker machines on the Central Coast. That means 2.37% of the total number of poker machines in Australia are on the NSW Central Coast.[40]

Gosford has approximately 1928 pokies, spread across 37 venues. That is the equivalent of one poker machine for every 71 adults. In 2010–11, venues in Gosford made approximately $95,865,000 in profit from pokies. That equates to $700 for each adult member of Gosford's population.[41]

Wyong has approximately 2608 pokies, spread across 35 venues. That is the equivalent of one poker machine for every 47 adults. In 2010–11, venues in Wyong made approximately $123,159,000 in profit from pokies. That equates to $1,000 for each adult member of Wyong's population.[41]

The Central Coast has a higher prevalence of problem gambling than the NSW average. Young men between the ages of 18 and 24 living on the Central Coast are the biggest players of poker machines in NSW and are the highest risk group for problem gambling.[42]

In 2008 Central Coast Gambling Help carried out a survey of 200 young people aged from 13–24 and found:

Regulatory authorities

Since the introduction of new gambling services, including online gambling, the Commonwealth has taken a more active role in the regulation of gambling, but the Australian gambling industry is also regulated by State and Territory authorities:[44]

Self-regulatory government initiatives

In August 2023, a federal self-exclusion registry known as "BetStop" was introduced by the Australian Communications and Media Authority. All betting providers in Australia are required to verify customers against the registry, and must not allow users to create an account or receive marketing communications if a match is detected. At least 18,000 users registered within its first six months of operation.[45][46] The project was first recommended by Barry O'Farrell as part of a 2015 review; it was originally intended to launch in 2022, but was delayed after the technology provider that was originally contracted to develop the registry went into administration.[46]

Key legislation

Traditionally gambling has been legislated at a state and territory level rather than by the Commonwealth:[47]

Online gambling

The Interactive Gambling Act (2001) was passed by the Australian Commonwealth Parliament on 28 June 2001.[48] It received assent on 11 July 2001[49]

The Act is targeted at online gambling operators, making it an offense for them to offer 'real-money' online interactive gambling to residents of Australia. It also makes it illegal for online gambling operators to advertise 'real-money' interactive gambling services (such as online poker and online casinos) to Australian citizens.[48] That being said, the amount spent on online gaming by Australians reached some $800 million by 2010, according to the official 2010 Productivity Report of the Australian Government.[50] Australian gamblers wager nearly $250 billions annually.[51]

Accessing and using the interactive gambling services is not an offence. It is also allowed to companies based in Australia to offer their gambling services to gamblers located outside Australia with the exception of those countries that were called 'designated countries' like Australia.[52]

Taxation laws on gambling in Australia

Gamblers' winnings in Australia are not taxed. There are 3 main reasons for that:

Taxation of gambling operators in Australia differs from state to state and different gambling services are taxed in a different way. There are taxes on the turnover, on player loss and net profit. As gambling operators need to obtain a licence to offer their services, certain fees must also be paid at this stage of gambling business development.[54]

The use of different tax rates and tax bases makes it difficult to compare taxes across states. For example, the ACT's keno tax rate of 2.53% of turnover is equivalent to a tax rate on gross profits of 10.12%.[55]

Tax rates (2015–16)[56]

EGMs in hotels EGMs in clubs EGMs in casinos Keno Table games in casinos (and keno in casinos in some instances)
NSW 0–50% of quarterly player loss, depending on quarterly player loss 0–28.05% of quarterly player loss, depending on quarterly player loss (the rate peaks at 28.05% for $250,000–$450,000, then falls to 18.05% before rising to a maximum of 26.55% above $5 million) 16.41–38.91% of gross revenue, depending on gross revenue, plus 2% Responsible Gambling Levy on gross gaming revenue 8.91%–14.91% of player loss, depending on player loss 16.41–38.91% of gross revenue, depending on gross revenue
Victoria 8.33–62.53% of monthly average player loss (per machine), depending on by monthly average player loss, times by the average number of machines 0–54.20% of monthly average player loss (per machine), depending on monthly average player loss, times by the average number of machines 31.57–51.57% of gross gaming revenue, depending on gross revenue, plus a 1% Community Benefit Levy 24.24% of player loss 21.25–41.25% of gross revenue, depending on gross revenue, plus 1% Community Benefit Levy
Queensland 35% of monthly taxable metered win (amount bet minus payout), plus Health Services Levy of 0–20% of monthly taxable metered win, depending on monthly metered win 0–35.00% of monthly taxable metered win, depending on monthly metered win 30% of monthly gross revenue (Gold Coast and Brisbane casinos), 20% of gross revenue (Townsville and Cairns casinos) 29.40% of monthly gross revenue, excluding casino commissions (Jupiters Casino), 20% of monthly gross revenue (Gold Coast and Brisbane casinos), 10% of gross revenue (Townsville and Cairns casinos) 20% of monthly gross revenue (Gold Coast and Brisbane casinos), 10% of gross revenue (Townsville and Cairns casinos)
Western Australia N/A N/A 12.42% flat rate on gross gaming revenue, plus 2% Burswood Park Levy on gross revenue 9.37% of player loss (domestic), 1.75% of player loss (international business) 9.37% (domestic), 12.92% (fully automated table games)
South Australia 0–65% of annual net gambling revenue, depending on annual net gambling revenue Up to 41% of net gambling revenue 41% of net gambling revenue 3.41% of net gambling revenue (table games), 10.91% of net gambling revenue (fully automated table games)
Tasmania 25.88% of gross profit, plus 4% Community Support Levy 25.88% on gross profit 5.88% of gross profit 0.88% of annual gross profit
Northern Territory 12.91–42.91% of monthly gross profits 11% of gross profit (Lasseters Casino), 15% of gross profit (Skycity Darwin Casino), plus a 10% Community Benefit Levy 10% of gross profit, reduced by the GST amount The GST rate only
Australian Capital Territory 25.9% of gross monthly revenue, plus 0.6% Problem Gambling Assistance Fund Levy 10.9% of gross revenue 2.53% of turnover
Major forms of gambling taxation by gambling type[54]
Forms of taxation Gambling Activity
Turnover tax Bookmakers (racing)
Bookmakers (sports betting)
Totalisator wagering on racing
Lottery subscriptions
Draw card machines
Tax on player loss Totalisator wagering on racing
Sports betting
Poker machines in hotels, clubs, casinos
TAB sports betting
Net profits tax Poker machines
Off-course totalisator investment
Licence Fees Casinos
Poker machines
Sports betting
Minor gambling (bingo, raffles)

See also


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  2. ^ Bryant, Nick "Australia in thrall of gambling mania", BBC, 30 January 2007
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  4. ^ a b "Productivity Commission Inquiry Report". Productivity Commission, Australian Government. 23 June 2010. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
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  16. ^ a b "Gaming statewide statistics - Quarter 4 - 2022-23" (PDF). Consumer and Business Services.
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  18. ^ "Gaming machine caps and limits". Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission. 26 October 2016. Retrieved 28 November 2023.
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  32. ^ "Gambling Regulation Act 2003, Version 103" (PDF). 9 November 2023. 3.5.30 Spin rates.
  33. ^ a b c "Tasmanian Appendix to the Australian and New Zealand Gaming Machine National Standard" (PDF). Tasmanian Liquor and Gaming Commission. 1 July 2023.
  34. ^ Australian Institute of Gambling Research. "Australian Gambling Comparative History and Analysis" (PDF). Victorian Casino and Gaming Authority. Retrieved 29 January 2015.
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