The last time the legality of online poker in Australia came under threat was the passage of the Interactive Gambling Act in 2001. The law made it a crime for operators based out of Australia to offer their services to residents but it did nothing to target players or international poker sites. So as of today, I’m happy to report that online poker is alive and well.
As a general rule of thumb, the best Australian poker sites are those with a presence in the European market. The reason I say this is because Europe is a tough market to crack. Strict licensing requirements and fierce competition serve as effective proving grounds. Any site that can survive and thrive under such demanding conditions is a place that’s more than capable of keeping your money safe and providing fair games.
The added benefit of playing at large, international poker sites is the simple fact that they have so many active players. Join one of these sites and you’ll find yourself seated at tables with players from all around the world. With large tournaments and cash games running 24/7, there’s never a lack of action at any level.
And yes, large poker sites fully support Australian dollars. Overseas operators are well aware that Australians have exactly zero local options thanks to gaming laws that make it impossible to operate a licensed poker site. You’ll have access to English customer support and deposit methods that cater to the Australian market.
Is online poker legal in Australia?
Australians are fortunate to have access to a wide variety of large and respected poker sites despite a complex legal environment. The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 (IGA) regulates online gaming at the national level in Australia. Individual states and territories also further regulate online betting within their borders.
The main thing to keep in mind is that gaming laws in Australia target operators and not individual players. It’s pretty simple from the players’ point of view: there is nothing stopping you from playing real money online poker in Australia. You just have to find the right websites.
The IGA does permit certain forms of online sports betting. Licensed bookmakers are able to offer their services to Australians as long as they adhere to all national and state regulations. The catch is that any site with a bookmaking license may not offer online poker to Australians.
If a site has a license to offer sports betting in Australia, it must comply with laws that prohibit online poker. Some gaming companies opted to go this route and make inroads into the legal betting market in Australia. Others decided it wasn’t worthwhile and continue to offer all forms of gaming without a license.
This is why some big name online poker sites stopped offering games to Australians. They now have sports betting licenses and wouldn’t do anything to jeopardize those licenses. Some of the other bigger names have forgone the licensing process entirely and continue to offer the full gaming experience from other jurisdictions.
Special Considerations for Australians
There are three issues that impact Australians in particular when it comes to playing poker online. First, there is the question of currency. There’s not a single poker site in the world that hosts its games in the AUD format. The good news is that’s not a major problem. All the best online poker rooms accept AUD deposits and automatically convert your currency into USD, GBP or EUR during your stay.
Next is the time zone issue. Australia rests in a completely different time zone than the majority of the world’s poker players. If you’re not able to log in during peak European hours, you won’t have access to nearly as many players and tables. The best solution to the time zone problem is to play at high traffic poker sites. That’s one of the big things I kept in mind when putting together the above list of recommendations.
Third is the language issue. This isn’t actually a problem because the major European sites already cater to their English customers in other parts of the world. That’s just another reason why I recommend European sites to Australians.
Deposit Methods for Australians
Thankfully, the Australian government has made no attempt to crack down on the financial industry’s ability to process payments to and from poker sites. Those of you living Down Under have access to more than enough deposit methods to fund your account and get paid when you win.
Credit and debit cards work well for individual deposits. All you have to do is type in your card number and your account will be funded instantly. Another option is to sign up for an e-wallet account through Neteller. An account with Neteller allows you to not only make deposits but also receive payouts from poker sites. This one comes in handy if you have a large bankroll and make frequent withdrawals.
If you have online banking enabled at your bank, you can even use that to deposit with the help of POLi. When you choose POLi as your deposit method, you are asked to choose an amount and then log in to your online banking account to confirm the deposit. The money is then moved from your bank account to your poker account.