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Gambling and gambling-related offences

Gambling and gambling-related offences are regulated under the Gambling Regulation Act 2003 (the Act).

Changes to the Act came into effect on 1 July 2015. The new legislation consolidates the various offences previously relating to lotteries, unlawful games, betting, totalisators and betting exchanges, replacing them with three new offences relating to conducting ‘unauthorised gambling’.

It also provides a definition of gambling in the legislation.

What is gambling?

Gambling is defined in the Act as an activity which includes all of the following:

  • a prize of money or something else of value is offered or can be won
  • a person pays or stakes money or some other valuable consideration to participate
  • the outcome involves, or is presented as involving, an element of chance.

An activity is defined as 'gambling' if it involves an element of chance. This applies even if the outcome of the activity may be influenced by a person’s skill.

What is unauthorised gambling?

'Unauthorised gambling’ means gambling that is not authorised by or under the Act or other legislation.

A person conducts unauthorised gambling if they:

  • organise, manage or supervise unauthorised gambling
  • distribute a prize offered in unauthorised gambling
  • distribute money paid or staked in unauthorised gambling
  • facilitate participation in unauthorised gambling (including by allowing a person to participate in unauthorised gambling)
  • use a document, device, piece of equipment or other thing for the purposes of enabling unauthorised gambling to take place
  • assists in any of the above activities.

A person does not conduct unauthorised gambling if they only participate in unauthorised gambling.

What activities do not fall under the definition of gambling?

Activities that do not fall under the definition of gambling include:

  • an activity that is undertaken with no intention to raise money, in which all money is returned to the participants, and from which the organiser/manager of the activity does not profit
  • an activity in which all participation is free of charge
  • the receiving of winnings by:
    • the winner of a horse or other race, sport, game or exercise
    • the owner of the horse
  • a private raffle among employees where the net proceeds of the raffle are appropriated to provide amenities for employees and where the value of the prize does not exceed $5000
  • an activity prescribed in the Regulations.
What activities constitute ‘gambling’ but not ‘unauthorised gambling’?

Some activities that fall within the new definition of ‘gambling’ are defined as being ‘authorised’ for the purposes of the Act. These include:

  • games at amusement centres, fetes or carnivals
  • the conduct of two-up associated with ANZAC day
  • betting games on approved foot or bicycle races
  • approved Calcutta sweepstakes.

Conduct of these activities (in accordance with the legislative provisions applying to them) will not constitute an ‘unauthorised gambling’ offence.

What offences are specified?

Offences specified under the Act are:

  • unauthorised gambling
  • advertising unauthorised gambling
  • providing a place for unauthorised gambling.
What penalties apply?

Penalties for breaching the Act include up to:

  • two years imprisonment
  • 100 penalty units
  • a combination of penalty units and imprisonment.



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