Top Interesting Facts about the History of Casinos in Australia

Gambling is a top fun activity for most Aussies and this goes back in time to some interesting history that most people are not aware of. A comparative study by the Victorian Casino and Gambling Authority established that 80% of Australians enjoy gambling in casinos and this has become part of the Australian culture for a while now. Gambling has also evolved over the years. With advanced tech, Aussies have taken the sport to the next level, with online casino platforms being a major part of this tradition. Although the law restricts online casinos, there are still many top online casinos that accept Australian players.

You may be wondering why Australian’s love Casinos so much, where it began, how much the casino industry is worth, or how much Aussies spend on gambling. Here are interesting facts you didn’t know about the history of Casinos in Australia.

The highest number of gamblers in the world

You may already know Australia has the highest number of gamblers in the world. Casino gamblers make up over 40% of the population, amounting to 6.8 million people gambling. Australia has the biggest casinos, and at least each state has one of the best Australian online casino and many others that people flock to. The astonishing fact is this percentage of the population gamble daily playing slots and table games. Interestingly winners are allowed to take 100% of their earnings without taxes across the country.

Aussies like to participate in sports betting, poker, and other gambling activities, with an average of 89% of the adult population engaged in the game. This is the highest gambling rating compared to any other country, although Las Vegas and other casino destinations have given the US the reputation. Surprisingly the prize for gambling goes to Australia as gambling is part of their culture.

An interesting fact from the Australian gambling industry is that older adults aged between 50 to 65 years love betting compared to the younger population. Those older than 65 years also love gambling at the same rate as those in their 50s.

A brief history of gambling in Australia

One of the most common tales about the origin of the Aussie casino industry began with drunk convicts who liked to play cards during their leisure time. The government tried to put some strict control by imposing sanctions but eventually conceded to the fact that gambling had become part of the social entertainment order. Australia has since accepted and made gambling part of their pastime activities, from porker games, betting, and other table games. Being the biggest gambling country, Australia has simply become a haven for gamblers and casino businesses. The country boasts some of the biggest casinos in the world and has been home to the biggest casino tournaments over the years.

The earliest forms of gambling in Australia were horse racing. By 1850, most territories have established turf clubs. Betting was afterward allowed in racecourse with private ticket sellers called bookmakers. Later the government followed suit with regulations. Lotteries go way back to 1920, with the first-ever government-operated lotteries opened in all territories.

Government-owned lotteries are well regulated, which has allowed them to generate more revenue than private lotteries.

About online casinos

Internet gambling may seem like a new concept in gambling, but the truth is this has existed in Australia for some time now. Australia has been at the forefront of embracing gambling on the internet, and citizens have enjoyed this for almost 3 decades now. This has been hugely influenced by the government’s attitude towards gambling which made its laws favorable to gambling. It only became easy for online casinos to begin their operations in the early 90s when computer tech was advancing at a higher rate.

Online casinos in Australia have become more popular in the recent past, following increased websites offering online gambling services. More Aussies are making deposits on online platforms as opposed to brick-and-motor casinos. Many free online betting casinos offer up to a minimum of 1 dollar, which makes them popular with more gamblers.

The government passed the Interactive Gambling Act in 2001, whose main objective was to streamline and provide for policies that guide online gambling in Australia. The challenge with this Act is that while Aussies are allowed to gamble online, gambling websites are prohibited from accepting Australian players. This is a paradox from what one may think the Act provides for. But the good news is the Act did not prohibit foreign sites from accepting Aussies from signing up. With today’s advanced tech, more Assies are accepted in hundreds of gambling sites, from sports betting to a plethora of online casinos.

Another interesting fact is online betting platforms are allowed to accept foreigners and not Aussies, as mentioned. Companies are allowed to accept bets on sports online not allowed to offer live betting.

A lot of money is made by pubs and Casinos

You may only know Las Vegas and other popular casino destinations in the states, but you may be perplexed at Australia’s statistics. Although Aussies love to gamble their money, statistics show how many average gamblers lose money every day. This translates to billions of losses across the country every year. You may argue this is how casinos thrive, which also enhances the government’s revenue collection. As mentioned, Aussies are the biggest gamblers in the world per capita, with an astounding annual loss of over AUD24 billion. The biggest gamblers in the world are also the biggest losers, with an average loss of AUD500 – AUD12000 per capita. They may not be the biggest losers certainly compared to Americans, but this is a lot of financial loss regardless.

The shocking thing is that 40% of Aussies claim to be just regular gamblers who purchase lottery tickets and scratches. This is, however, a departure from statistics that depict a different view. The bigger portion of these losses also come from average to low-income households who spend at least 10% of their disposable income on gambling.

A plethora of betting machines

Almost every Aussie has engaged in a gambling-related activity while playing like a pro at one point or the other in their life. This has made Australia the world-leading gambling country, with an estimated 20% of the world’s gambling machines. The country has over 200,000 pokies machines, with New South Wales having the most of the machines. There has been a steady decline in electronic machines mainly caused by government regulations which try to limit the number of machines in the country. This comes as an intervention by the government, which limits it to 200,000 machines, different states have their regulations regardless.

Poker machines go way back to 1956, in clubs registered in New South Wales. The territory still leads with the highest number of government-licensed casinos. On the other hand, casinos in Australia began in 1973 in Hobart, with legislation to properly regulate Casinos passed in 1986 in New South Wales. With computer technology in the 1990s, Australia was in the frontline of allowing online betting with the enactment of the Law in 2001 to regulate top online casinos that accept Australian players.

A plethora of betting machines

Casinos benefit the Australian economy

The casino industry makes a huge contribution to the Australian economy. This includes but is not limited to revenue collected in gambling, massive employment opportunities for Aussies, beautiful and eye-catching casino infrastructure, which has led made it a casino tourism center. This may be the only reason why Australian governments have embraced and enhanced the gambling culture in the country. 50% of the government’s revenue comes from poker slots from casinos. Many big casinos are a conglomerate or subsidiaries of the biggest casinos in the world, which grows the link between domestic and international tourism in Australia.

Not many countries in the world can be influenced by the casino industry like it has influenced Australia’s economic, social, and political aspects for some time now. The Productivity Commission in the 2017/2018 financial year provides that $6.8 billion taxation revenue was collected in Australia across all gambling platforms. Approximately $4 billion was collected from casinos, while casinos employ over 150,000 Aussies who are were paid approximately $10 billion. Also, 25% spent on gaming automatically becomes government revenue, and other revenues are used for gambling counseling and community trusts.

Lottery, Scratchcards, Pokies, and Keno

It is a known fact that Aussies are the biggest gamblers and love the game as part of their culture. Many gamblers in Australia prefer playing lottery and scratchies because they are instant win games. One fact you should also know is there is a low risk for the Aussies that play scratchies hence its preference. Lottery and scratchcards used to be available for purchase in brick-and-motor retails, but with an increase in online gambling, they are now easily accessible on the internet. In 2021 alone, there was an increase in lottery and scratch cards purchases, with over 8.5 million Australians participating in lottery games, translating to 47% of the Australian population. This alone shows how much they relish the game without including statistics from other forms of gambling.

Pokies, as commonly referred to in Australia, are video poker. Stats show that over 2.4 million Aussies engaged played pokies in 2021, which translates to 12% of the population. Another fact is on sports betting which has also seen a steady increase with over 2.2 Australians participating in 2021, translating to 10% of the population.

Pokies are available all over Australia, with Casinos are stashed with slot machines for their clients to indulge in. Although pokies have been popular in the past, 2021 has seen a little decline in the numbers compared to 2019. It is like more Australians are showing less interest in pokies, with an almost 50% decrease in the last 20 years. Nationally the stats remain high, with an average of 12% of the population participating in 2021. This may be because some territories have a higher population, with many citizens engaging in pokies. For instance, the Northern Territory has continued to be a hotbed of pokies.

Keno remains the backbone of the Australian gambling industry, which is a low-stakes game mostly played in pubs and casinos. Keno joints made over AUD350 dollars alone in 2021, with New South Wales and Queensland being top destinations for Keno.

An American is the biggest porker winner in Australia

This may come as a surprise to many and more surprising to the home of gambling that an outsider won the biggest prize ever in Australia. Depending on how they take, most will envy the Americans who took the biggest win despite many Aussies losing a lot of money gambling. The American took home over $23 million in 2019 in the tournament, whose entry amount was over $1 million. In the 2019-million-dollar porker tournament, Brayn Kennedy managed to break the record of the main event by defeating 821 players.

A game only played once a year

This is a special day for Australians and New Zealanders to commemorate and honor their heroes who sacrificed for the country to be free. It is celebrated on April 25 every year, when the whole court comes to a standstill. On Anzac Day, Australians indulge in pubs and casinos and play the traditional; two-up. An interesting fact about two-up is that it can only be played on Anzac Day and made illegal to play on other days of the year. The game involves gamblers betting on the result featuring two pennies, notably a kip and a spinner.

The history of two-up is founded from the pitch & toss game which was played using a single coin. The game was popular among English and Irish pantry folk who immigrated to Australia in the 19th Century. The popularity of two-up increased in the 1850s, spreading across the Eastern colonies by ex-convicts. Two-up also got played by soldiers in the 20th Century, during the two world wars, indulging in the game while going through the trenches, which led to the game being associated with Anzac Day.

Originally the game was illegal, just like most gambling activities, but eventually, Governors in Victoria and NSW made it legal 90s to commemorate Anzac Day.

Most gamblers are men

As common as it is in most parts of the world, another interesting fact about Australia is that most gamblers are men. Of course, the history of the game was founded by mostly men, going way back to WWI and WWII. While women also participate in casino gambling, men in Australia have a higher appetite pf risk and are more willing to place more money on bets compared to their female counterparts.

With this in mind, more men face gambling-related problems like depression, family feuds, psychological issues, and loss of income, among others. Men have also been on the frontline of the biggest wins in gambling and also the biggest losers because of this fact. Women keep on increasing in number but going forward, men in Australia still outnumber them with a huge difference.


The bottom line remains, Australia is the world’s biggest gambling country and has made this a gaming culture. The casino industry drives the Australian economy in a big way. Aussies also love the game, with a big portion of disposable income going to betting and other gambling-related activities, which has its risks.