As most of you probably know, many consider Australia to be the capital of gambling. 80% of Aussies admit to being involved in gambling in some form. We lose more money yearly on average than any other nation in the world. For comparisons, an average Australian spends AUD$1,700 each year on gambling. That’s more than four times greater than American AUD$400 yearly expenditure.
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Despite these numbers, Australia doesn’t have a long-lasting history of gambling. During the largest part of the 20th century, it was illegal to gamble or open up a casino. It was only when the Australian government saw how much money their U.S. counterpart was raking in that things changed.
Nowadays, there are 13 casinos stationed all over the Lucky Country, alongside uncountable free online pokies and pubs with gambling machines. They offer players more than just games – these casinos are complexes with restaurants, hotels, spas, and all other luxurious whatnots.
On top of that, with the evolution of the Internet, Australians flooded the online gambling scene, as both players and business owners. The government found it difficult to keep track of online transactions, and as such, they couldn’t figure out how to tax them. Thanks to this, we now have a law that restricts our online gambling capabilities. As of March 2017, online gambling is completely banned in Australia. Australian online casinos cannot offer real money betting to players, while foreign ones aren’t allowed to offer their services to players from Australia.
On a more positive note, let’s dive into the world of Australian casinos – a world of flashy signs, grand promises, and luxury that makes you feel like Robert De Niro before he grew old.
In the 1950s, pokie clubs and pubs started popping up like mushrooms all over New South Wales. Players flocked as pokie machines offered more commodity than other available options – lottery and horse race betting. With a decade of pokie popularity, the 1960s was an era of petitioning to join Americans in legalising gambling. Players joined in together with those who wanted to make a business out of it.
The Commonwealth Parliament finally organised a referendum in 1968 which allowed them to start giving out licenses to gambling organisations. Since then, Aussies could experience the splendour of Las Vegas and Atlantic City in their hometown (well, some of them, at least). We’ll now go through the land-based casinos that there are in Australia and we’ll start with the oldest one.
Wrest Point Hotel Casino
It took five years after the referendum to get us our first casino. In 1973, a hotel in Hobart, Tasmania converted to a casino called the Wrest Point Hotel Casino. They are still open for business. Their being the oldest casino, though, is not the only attraction they provide.
They are located in Sandy Bay, with a beautiful view of the Tasman Sea. Over the years, they managed to attract worldwide stars to perform in their casino and are holders of multiple tourism awards.
Wrest Point offers a four-and-a-half-star hotel with rates beginning at 169$. Moreover, there are three restaurants you can dine in, as well as several drinking bars. You can also enjoy a day in the spa, swim in a pool and play on a mini-golf course.
As for the games themselves, they offer 25 table games, alongside around 700 electronic gaming machines. The buy-in is 1¢, and you can also play in a poker room with four poker tables, all with Texas Hold ‘Em.
Sky City Darwin
The Sky City Darwin Casino opened up in 1979, under the name of Mindil Beach. Located in Darwin, Northern Territory, Sky City offers a five-star beachside resort, as well as four restaurants and several snack and liquor bars. They have a private beach, a spa, infinity pools, all there for your comfort.
The casino boasts a selection of 30 table games and about 600 electronic games, with most of them being, you’ve guessed it, slot machines. They are open 24/7, so you can walk in whenever you feel like testing your luck.
The Adelaide Casino was founded in 1985 in South Australia. We’ll leave it up to you to guess in which city. They work 24/7, except on the Christmas Day and Good Friday. Within their 129,000 square feet complex, they have restaurants and bars, four of each. However, they didn’t find space for a hotel of their own.
The casino, which used to go by the name of Sky City Casino, operates on two floors. Alongside 14 table games, they have a poker zone which is open five days a week and runs Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha poker tables. There, you can participate in tournaments and buy-ins start at 200$. Apart from that, there are 1000 gaming machines, with an average of 15 jackpots hit every day. The minimum bet is set at 0,01$, which means you can just play all your troubles away.
Founded in 1995, the Star is the only casino in Sydney as of now (although, that will soon change). When it comes to casino gaming, the Star is one of the biggest venues in Australia, offering 140 table games and just under 1500 poker machines and other electronic games. They have a poker room with 34 tables, and there’s a possibility for private VIP experience if you’re one of the high rollers.
Furthermore, there’s plenty of other activities for you to enjoy even if you’re not into gambling. They offer a 2000-seat arena with frequent famous music acts, a spa with pools and saunas, and three hotels for you to spend the night in. You can feast in seven different restaurants and drink in six bars. When the night comes, if you’re tired of gambling but not tired enough to sleep, you can also have fun in their nightclub.
Opened up in 1997, the Crown Casino and Entertainment Complex is the biggest casino for you to visit in Australia. Located in Melbourne, Victoria, they operate with more than 2600 machines and 540 table games. Their poker room contains 50 tables. Their main tournament, Aussie Millions, had the first prize of $1,8 million.
When you’re not playing games, you can dine in 17 restaurants, or enjoy yourself in multiple bars and a nightclub. If you don’t feel like spending the night in one of their three hotels, you can enjoy yourself by visiting some of the live theatre and concert events they organise.
Established in 1995 in Brisbane, Queensland, the Treasury Casino works 24/7 and offers 80 table games and 1600 machines. They have a hotel, six restaurants, and four bars for you to spend your time in when you’re not playing. The poker room consists of 8 tables.
In 2023, the Treasury is expected to become a part of the new Star Brisbane Casino.
The Star Gold Coast
Another Queensland casino, formerly known as Jupiter’s Gold Coast Casino. With 70 table games and 1600 electronic machines, the variety is plentiful enough for your enjoyment, even if their poker room has only two tables.
Apart from the gaming facilities, there are three restaurants, a spa, and a hotel. Six bars top off this complex you should visit if you ever find yourself passing through Broadbeach.
Country Club Tasmania
Second Tasmanian casino, which opened in 1982, Country Club is sister property of Wrest Point Hotel Casino. Country Club is more than just a casino – it’s a resort that spreads over 300 acres, filled with lakes, fields, and wildlife. You can enjoy bike and horse riding, as well as playing on golf courses. As far as food goes, they have six restaurants and three villas which offer casual dining.
The Country Club Casino has received multiple awards over the years for being the best entertainment venue in Tasmania. They organise gigs four times a week in two of their bars. They also have conference and wedding facilities if you want a pokie to witness the happiest day of your life (allegedly).
Regarding gambling itself, Country Club offers the following games: Blackjack, Baccarat, Pontoon, pokies, Money Wheel, Rapid Roulette, and American Roulette.
If your destination is the capital of Australia, you’ll be able to play in the Casino Canberra, which has been around since 1994. To this day, Casino Canberra remains the only one in the Australian Capital Territory. They offer three restaurants for you to dine in, as well as a spa centre and bars. There’s also a nightclub. VIP members get to experience private gambling and dining, coupled with a private bar and organised after parties.
As for casino games, the unique thing about Casino Canberra is that they don’t have any pokies. Literally none. So, if you’re a pokie guy like the rest of this country, this is not a place for you. What they do have is 45 table games, together with a poker pit of six tables. In the poker room, you can play Texas Hold ‘Em, Omaha, Seven-Card Stud, Manila, and Faro Poker. They organise monthly and weekly tournaments.
Reef & Hotel
Reef & Hotel Casino is the third Queensland casino on this list. Opened in 1996 in Cairns, this they own 500 pokies. Apart from that, they have the following table games: Blackjack, Roulette, Mini- and Midi-Baccarat, Sic Bo, and Money Wheel. Some of these tables are fully automated.
As far as accompanying facilities go, they have an arena which they use as a cinema or a concert venue. They also offer a five-star hotel, five restaurants and two bars.
Lasseters Hotel Casino
The Lasseters Hotel Casino opened its doors in 1981 in Alice Springs, Northern Territory. They are one of the smaller casinos in Australia, being equipped with 330 machines and 20 table games. Their betting limit is between 1¢ and 1$. The poker room offers two variants of poker – Texas Hold ‘Em and Omaha.
Regarding other activities, they have a four-and-a-half-star hotel with around 200 rooms. On top of that, there are three restaurants, several lounges and bars, as well as a health club and a spa. Near the Lasseters, you can visit the Alice Springs Desert Park. You can also find a golf club nearby.
They used to have a popular online casino, but it closed down in 2008.
The Crown Perth Casino is the leading casino in Western Australia and the crown of western gambling – mainly because it’s the only one. It’s the newest gambling venue around, having opened in 2011 and represents the only place in WA where you can play pokies.
75,000 square feet of the casino are covered with 350 table games and 2500 gaming machines. Their poker room operates 16 tables. They work 24/7.
This newly-built casino has three hotels to its name, with 1168 rooms in total. Bring all your relatives over. Additionally, they have a spa, a resort-style pool, and 32 restaurants and bars. You can also have a whale of a time in their nightclub and a 2300-seat theatre. There are meeting rooms and a convention centre for weddings and conferences.
If this is not enough for you, you can spend your time in retail outlets they have. Also, sitting down playing pokies for hours can be an unhealthy habit. Why not visit their riverside cycling trails?
Jupiters Townsville Hotel & Casino
The last addition to Queensland’s casino community on this list. Jupiters Townsville opened up in 1986 in, logically, Townsville. Jupiters is the smallest casino in Australia – they operate with just 300 gaming machines and 28 table games. They have a five-star hotel, coupled with two bars which come with large-screen TVs you can use for sports betting. When it comes to dining, you can eat in five restaurants.
In 2021, Sydney can expect to receive their second casino – Crown Sydney. They plan to make this complex 73 floors high and 271 metres tall. When the building’s done with, it will overtake Chifley Tower as Sydney’s tallest building.
A year later, Brisbanites will be able to play in The Star Brisbane Casino, which will have over 2500 pokie machines, hotels, and other luxurious amenities. In the next 20 years, you can expect around 15 new casinos to be founded in Australia.
Alongside newcomers, the ones that are already here are expanding as well. For example, Hard Rock plans to involve itself in the expansion of the Gold Coast’s gambling offer, with the Star Entertainment Group already promising a $2 billion investment in their casino resort. The Adelaide Casino also plans to upgrade its facilities, with a $330 million expenditure on the line.
The Interactive Gambling Act passed in 2001 was the first step towards the eventual complete removal of online casinos in Australia. At first, the IGA didn’t allow Australian online casinos to offer or promote real money betting. Australian players couldn’t play on Australian websites, as such businesses could offer their services only to foreign players. Likewise, players could only play in casinos based overseas.
But, that wasn’t enough of a setback. By 2010, 9 years into the IGA, Australians had spent $800 million gambling online. So, the government, unable to fully tax online transactions, passed another bill in 2017. This bill bans online gambling entirely. Online casinos as a type of organisation can’t get a license in Australia, and foreign websites can’t allow Australian players to sign up any longer.