The Success of Gambling in Australia vs the UK

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Gambling is big business, and the global gambling industry is one of the most successful in the world. The digital era has opened doors to a whole new sector with the invention of online casinos, and this has been a massive boost. In the UK, for example, online gambling activity makes up almost 40% of the industry’s entire gross gambling yield – not bad for a sector that didn’t exist 25 years ago.

While the gambling industry as a whole is booming, its success is heavily supported by a minority of countries who have embraced gambling as a profitable service. There are many more countries, especially those in Africa and the Middle East, where all forms of gambling are banned, and anyone caught breaking the laws faces stiff punishment.

That’s not the case though for Australia, where the Aussies love gambling. There are 6.8 million regular gamblers in the country – about 39% of the population. Australia also tops the global charts for the county with the highest gambling losses - not surprising when it’s such a popular activity. The UK isn’t far behind, with 32% of adults in a national survey reporting that they had played casinos games at least once that month. However, the way that both countries handle the market, as well as how the players choose to spend their money, is wildly different.

Rules and Regulations

All gambling activity in the UK is overseen by the Gambling Commission. They have recently reviewed the 2005 Gambling Act and recommended changes and updates due this year to make sure that gambling remains safe and fun for players. The Gambling Act was ahead of its time by ensuring that online gambling was specifically mentioned and regulated separately, something which Australia failed to do.

The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 was introduced by the Australian government with the express purpose of limiting the growth of online gambling. Online casinos were forbidden from offering cash services, meaning that players could only play for free or digital credits which had no real monetary value. While this gave wider access to games like poker and roulette, many fans felt that the excitement had been lost. As a result, many Australians have been driven to play illegally at unlicensed casinos.

While the government has declared online gambling illegal, they have very few powers to stop it happening. Any fines handed out to operators for accepting Australian customers pale in comparison to the profits they make from tapping into the market – especially as this illegal operation means they don’t have to pay taxes on their revenue. By contrast, UK casino providers must pay a hefty 20% tax in return for being issued a license. This money goes into the Government’s kitty to pay for public services like transport, road maintenance, and education.

One online services Australians are allowed to use are licensed sports books, but this hasn’t proved to be very successful as many punters don’t realise this exception to the online ban exists. As a result, the revenue from sports betting in Australia is a tenth of that in the UK, even though both countries are passionate about their sport.

Favourite Games

By far the most played games in Australia are the pokies – or slot machines as they are known in the UK. These machines can be found in dedicated rooms in pubs and bars in much larger quantities than the UK. They are popular all over the world because of their simplicity – drop your money in and spin the reels, if the right combination of symbols appears then you’re a winner!

Unlike other popular casino games, these are all the rules you need to learn, making pokies/slots the easiest games for new players to start with. Add to this the lights, sounds, and graphics, the machines have everything they need to draw customers in.

The same is true of online slots, which are hugely popular in the UK. Online casinos are able to offer thousands of different slot games because there’s no space limitations, unlike in land-based casinos where these machines can be bulky.

Among the best sites are 888 Casino, who offer far more than any land-based or online venue thanks to their in-house developers creating thousands of virtual software slots as well as classic table games. It’s thanks to these unique features that makes them such a popular UK online casino among players.


Despite losing a large amount of revenue to offshore sites, the Australian gambling sector is only just behind the UK in global profit rankings. Imagine how much more successful it could be if it followed the UK’s example and embraced the online side of the business? Successful legislation to regulate and license online casinos in Australia would be beneficial for all involved and could see them competing with China and the US for the biggest gambling market in the world.


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