How Sports Betting Has Evolved in Australia through the Years

Australia loves sports betting, and that passion is only becoming more apparent in the digital age. Stretching as far back as early adulthood; cheeky bets on the outcome of card games, pool hall contests and interschool footy matches are pretty common element in the lives of most Aussies. So it’s no wonder that we’ve been swept up so quickly by the convenience and security offered by online betting apps, and platforms.

In the modern day, sports betting in Australia is wide accessible, easily understood and highly lucrative. Figures from 2014 revealed that the average Aussie punter would spend $1200 on sports betting related to soccer, basketball, NRL and horse racing. But while a variety of betting options may exist now, this certainly wasn’t always the case. Let’s take a look at how sports betting has evolved in Australia over the years.

Early Development

When settlers from Europe and England starting arriving on these shores, they brought with them a love of sports including rugby and cricket; and with this deep athletic passion came an accompanying interest in sports betting.  Amongst the earliest sports to gain widespread attention in the country was horse racing, as it so happens this was also an incredibly easy sport for the public to understand and bet on.  In a couple of years betting on horse racing had became almost as popular as the sport itself.

Soon this interest spread to a variety of other sports, most notably boxing which had started to draw a great deal of popularity across major cities. However, this surging market was soon met by an equally vociferous opposition as a major campaign against gambling led by more conservative elements within Australian society began to take root.

As a result by the early 20th century widespread bans on sports betting were implemented across Australia, which remained in place until the 1970s.

1970’s to 1990’s

In 1961 the Victorian government had started to make efforts to regulate sports betting with the establishment of a government bureau known as TAB (Totalisator Agency Board). The body was initially used to provide oversight on race betting, and provided a lucrative source of funding for the local government. Seeing the success of TAB in Victoria, other states and territories soon began to implement similar systems in their own regions.

During this time these betting agencies made attempts to expand their offerings to include cricket, AFL, and yacht races; but the small winning pools on offer combined with the limited betting options failed to attract mainstream attention. By the end of the millennium sports betting only accounted for 0.2% of total Australian gambling.

The Online Boom

With the arrival of the internet came online betting sites. In 2001, the Australian government passed the Interactive Gambling Act.

While this legislature did place restrictions on gambling advertising it also opened the door for sports betting through licensed online operators.  In the years since, sports betting has gone from strength to strength driven by the ease and convenience offered by mobile betting; and a slew of foreign betting agencies which have entered the market as well.