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Australia attracts millions of tourists each year for it’s nature, wildlife, cities, and laid back beach lifestyle. Though sporting culture is a big part of Australia’s identity which draws tourism unlike any other country.

From the Melbourne Cup to the AFL, and the Aussie Open to the Sydney to Hobart Yacht Race, getting in on the sports betting scene is a rite of passage for sporting tourists. 

However, before starting your sports betting experience in Australia, there are several facts you should keep in mind (the most important of which is to drink in moderation, and always gamble responsibly).

Facts About Sports Betting in Australia

The Expansion of Online Sports Betting

Sports betting online computer RF

Australian laws prohibited sports betting until 1980, but it didn’t stop punters from placing their bets, which they mainly did illegally at horse racing events.

Nowadays, the Melbourne Cup is the horse ‘Race that stops a nation’, and bets are very much legal; the richest handicap race in the world with a prize pool of 14 million.

This one race alone attracts punters from across the globe, but coming out of no-where and posed to overtake land based events is online sports betting, which is a fast growing alternative, when you can wager from your phone with mates in a pub.

To make it easier for you to find the best sportsbook, there is the complete list of all betting sites in Australia scanned by

Sports Betting Regulation and History

Melbourne Cup Horse race RF

Sports betting has a long tradition in Australia. The first organized bookie event took place in Sydney’s Hyde Park in 1810, and, of course, it was a horse race. Horse racing enjoyed huge popularity in the 19th century, and all major cities had racetracks. 

Punters could place their wagers only through a bookmaker until the 1930s. However, illegal aussie bookies also saw a lot of space for making profits, especially with the introduction of the telephone. 

By the 1970s, sports betting became the most famous type of gambling in Australia.

The new era of Australian sports betting started with the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. This law dealt with the expansion of online gambling though focused on regulating bookmakers rather than players, preventing domestic companies from promoting casino games and online poker.

Nevertheless, the Interactive Gambling Act did not stop the online gambling industry’s growth in Australia. Offshore companies can still offer different gambling activities to Aussies, and they can enjoy gaming and sports betting without many restrictions.

The only one that should be mentioned is the unavailability of in-play punting. In other words, Aussie punters cannot place their bets when the event has already started, and they can enjoy only pre-match punting.

Regarding the licensing laws, they vary from state to state. Nevertheless, the IGA remains the mainstay behind all wagering regulations in Australia. 

The Most Popular Sports to Bet on

Aus Open Tennis

Image credit: Mark Pazolli (CC BY 2.0) via Flickr

We have already mentioned that horse racing has a long tradition in Australia. Therefore, it is not strange that the Aussies love to place their wagers on horse racing events.

The Melbourne Cup attracts millions of bettors each year and is the most popular horse racing event in the country. 

Football or soccer is also very popular among Aussie bettors, who love placing bets on big competitions such as the English Premier League, the Champions League, or the World Cup. 

Aussie Rules Football (AFL) is another sport that Australian bettors like to wager on, especially come September when the country stops for the Grand Final. Cricket also attracts many punters, and is a means of national expression.

Basketball gained a lot of popularity among Aussies in the past few decades despite being a famous sport globally. And recent studies say that more than a million people play basketball in Australia, while the number of those that watch and bet on the NBA or the National Basketball League is even higher. 

Since Australia hosts one of the Grand Slams – the Australian Open – it is natural that the Aussies love to watch and wager on tennis. Sportsbooks provide different markets for this sport, and the large number of tournaments worldwide mean there’s enough matches on offer on a daily basis.

The Sports Betting Revenue Distribution

Sydney Opera House Australia Money Cash RF

It’s important for the Aussie punters to know that winnings from their sports betting activities are not taxed.

This is another fact that attracts more bettors, and the government classifies these winnings as a result of luck and not as regular income. Nevertheless, the country still benefits from sports betting since sportsbooks need to pay taxes.

There’s no general rule for the distribution of sports betting taxes, but the money is used for road repairs, school funds, or city employees’ salaries.

Australia is a big beneficiary of legal sports betting since its bettors are among the world’s highest stakers. 

Megan is an Australian Journalist and award-winning travel writer who has been blogging since 2007. Her husband Mike is the American naturalist and wildlife photographer behind Waking Up Wild; an online magazine dedicated to opening your eyes to the wonders of the wild & natural world.

Having visited 50+ countries across all seven continents, Megan’s travels focus on cultural immersion, authentic discovery and incredible journeys. She has a strong passion for ecotourism, and aims to promote responsible travel experiences.


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