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Gambling in Australia

australian-gamblingGambling first came to Australia when it was colonized by the British. It fast became a popular leisure activity no matter what social class one was in. The games played were decidedly British in influence. However, there is some evidence that the indigenous Aboriginal culture also had their own version of gambling.

In the beginning games such as poker, two-up and horse racing where popular. While gambling was prohibited in the early years, most people ignored the laws and participated in gambling games anyway. Some varieties of games developed slightly different as did many aspects of Australian culture as a result of their isolation.

Of all the gambling activities within Australia, horseracing became the first organized form. By the later part of the 19th century, just about every major town boasted a horse racetrack. Other types of racing did include greyhound and harness racing but they never achieve the notoriety that horseracing did. Betting began first with local bookmakers by eventually moved toward the totalisator.

Casinos also developed throughout the country. Today, every state has at least one casino, with some having many more. Over the recent years, expenditures in casinos have increased steadily. Casino gambling is now one of the nation’s top pastimes, including online casinos. Additionally, Australian casinos have been rather appealing to foreigners who visit the country to play there.


For the government of Australia, gambling is a growing source of revenue. However, this revenue remains with the states which are somewhat different than what occurs in other nations. In Australia, it is the responsibility of the local state or territorial government to oversee the industry. Therefore, there is a great deal of competition between these interstate governments to capture their share of the gambling market. Given its wide popularity, states have encouraged expansion as it brings in more tax revenue.