According to statistics, gambling is undertaken by over 80% of Australian adults in some form or the other, at least once throughout their lifespan.

Gambling isn’t a new concept in Australia and is widely popular throughout the media and literature industry.

It is a significant source of entertainment and leisure and adds to the country's revenue. The activity is closely tied to the history and culture of the place and has been around since the first colonial settlement.

It is considered something to be proud of, and gambles can be made on anything- certainly not restricted to casino games- like on the Melbourne cup, frog jumping, etc.

Despite legislation and severe limitations, gambling hasn't been reduced in Australia and is as prominent as ever. Here's a look at the rich and detailed history of gambling in this beautiful country, back when Betsquare wasn't a thing!

The History Of Gambling in Australia

Gambling can be traced back to colonial times in Australia when the British colonized Australia in the late 18th century and has been considered an important part of the culture since then.

The situations were harsh at the time, and people actively sought alternative modes of entertainment. At that time, it goes without saying, there were no concerts, theatres, etc. that people could enjoy for a while.

Risk and the associated reward in gambling brought about a desirable rush. Though this habit is viewed in several cultures as immoral, it is an integral part of the heritage in Australia.


The first form of gambling that came about in Australia, which was institutionalized, was horse racing, and it shot to popularity very fast. It was recorded that, by the 1850s, almost every capital city had its turf clubs, and betting was permitted soon after.

TABs (Totalisator Agency Boards) were established, allowing the legal procedure of betting to take place in coordination with private bookmakers with a license.


Lotteries were massively famous throughout the world at a point in time. In Australia, they came about in the 1920s and were initially operated by the Government itself. It was legal, and several jurisdictions started carrying out their own, and soon even privately owned lotteries came about.

Several people participated in it; undoubtedly, it carried a feeling of joy, excitement, and hope. It also was a form of revenue for the Government as they would levy certain fees on the operators for the necessary license.

Casino games

Legal Casino and club games rose to popularity all the way back in the 1950s. Poker machines were installed in several clubs and hotels as people would try their luck at the addictive game.

Casinos came slightly later during the 1970s, and thus poker became even more sought after. Unfortunately, casino owners required a proper license to install a poker machine, and permission wasn't easily granted.


A traditional, highly played game that involves two or more players betting on what side coins will land on when tossed up in the air.

At one point, it was even considered a national sport in Australia and is often recalled upon discussing the history of entertainment and gaming of the culture. However, the legislation is varied from state to state regarding whether two-up is now legal or not.

Rules and Regulations

Gambling was not objection-free. Several people voiced their displeasure at the rise of these activities, as they felt it was wrong on moralistic and paternalistic grounds.

However, despite that, throughout the 19-20th century, the Government actively took a positive stance toward it and relaxed the regulations and laws around it.

Gambling was increasingly embraced as a positive activity, a source of entertainment, and a reason for people to gather in the spirit of community for good-natured competition and fun.

Why is gambling so popular in Australia?

Several gambling researchers, professors, and human behavior analysts have looked into answering this question.

One major factor is everything mentioned above- whenever something is tied so strongly into history, it is valued and held dear to people, which is why people continue to gamble to this date.

Apart from this, it also has to do with marketing- gambling is often viewed as an activity engaged in by wealthy people and takes place majorly in hotels, casinos, or sports arenas. It is also an enormous source of the Government’s revenue.

Another reason is also the easy availability. Be it casinos, hotels, pubs, gaming arenas, etc.; one can easily find a way to get their gambling 'fix'.

Moreover, in recent years, with the Internet and the continuous development of technology, online casinos in Australia are increasing in popularity which have the fastest paying online casino, and it is easier than ever to access online gambling, play card games, place bets, and more.

With a positive attitude toward the activity combined with ready availability and even Governmental support to some extent, gambling was destined to be an integral part of the Australian culture. It has a rich history that explains the prominent outlook to the present day.