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Northern Territory Online Casinos

Northern Territory Online CasinosUpdate 2017: The Australian Government has now outlawed online casinos in the country. This means that operators are not licensed nor are they legally entitled to offer gambling services to Australian residents. Any sites that still accept Australian players are in direct contravention of government laws. Players funds may not be safe with these operators as they have no means of retrieving their funds in the case of any legal disputes. VegasSlotsOnline.com does not endorse any of these casinos and strongly recommends that Aussies avoid them until online gaming is regulated in the country.

The below article has been left online for informational purposes only.

The sparsely populated Northern Territory (fewer than 250,000 people live within its borders) takes up a large portion of the north-central portion of Australia. That’s less than half the population of Tasmania, making it the least populous state or territory in the country, with most people living in Darwin or elsewhere along the Stuart Highway. Still, the region is popular among tourists, who visit sites such as Ayers Rock and Kakadu National Park.

NT also has a rather important part to play in the online gambling industry. Since 1998, the government there has offered licensing for Internet gaming, making them the leading destination for firms that want to legally operate online gambling businesses in the country. However, not all types of betting over the web are sanctioned by the Australian government, so while there are some locally regulated options here, players must seek out overseas options if they want to play casino or poker games from the comfort of their homes.

Even with Few People, Plenty of Gaming Options

Given the small population in the Territory, you might think that there would be few options for gamblers here, at least on a large scale. But in truth, there are almost as many offerings available for Top Enders are there are for gamblers anywhere else in the country.

At the moment, there are two casinos that operate in NT, each of which services a different area. The Lasseters Hotel Casino is located in Alice Springs, and holds complete exclusivity over casino gaming in the territory’s Southern Division through at least 2018. The resort is known just as much for its gorgeous views and local attractions as for the gaming, and also features restaurants, night clubs, and other amenities that make this a high-end resort despite its remote location.

If you’d prefer to stick to the cities, you might want to give the Skycity Darwin a look. The first gambling hall opened in Darwin (the second in all of Australia) was the Don Casino, located at the Don Hotel, in 1979. Four years later, that venue’s license was transferred over to Mindil Beach. Since then, the name and ownership of the resort have changed several times, with the Skycity Entertainment Group being the current owners after buying the resort from MGM Grand in 2004. Along with 750 gaming machines and a variety of table games, there’s also a large hotel, restaurants, bars, a day spa and more to enjoy during your stay.

Pokies, of course, are available well outside of these two major gaming hubs. Until recently, there was a pretty low cap on the number of machines that could be hosted throughout NT: 1190 outside of the two casinos, including a maximum of 10 at any pub and 45 in any club. Those went up to 20 and 55, respectively, starting in July of 2015, and predictably, revenue from the games increased as a result.

Racing is also available in the Territory, even if the industry isn’t nearly as large as in more populated areas. Horse racing is governed by Thoroughbred Racing NT, with the biggest racing group here being the Darwin Turf Club. They hold races such as the Carlton Mid Darwin Cup out of Fannie Bay, while other races take place at the Alice Springs Turf Club, Adelaide River, and other locations. There’s also greyhound racing available, with most of the notable races taking place at Winnellie Park in Darwin.

As with most of the country, NT sees their lottery system operated by Tattersall’s, better known as Tatts. While local drawings are small thanks to the tiny population to draw upon, locals can also play in any of the national lottery contests like Powerball and Oz Lotto.

The Home for Online Licensing

The Northern Territory plays an oversized role when it comes to the regulated online gambling industry in Australia. That’s because it is the main place to go for Australian firms that want to legally offer bets to players in the country (and, potentially, in some other nations as well). NT has been playing this role since 1998, when it passed the Northern Territory Gaming Control (Internet Gaming) Act, and has maintained its grip on licensing thanks to very low tax rates and fees.

However, there is a limit to what licensees can offer, at least in Australia itself. That’s due to a federal law known as the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act. That bill set the rules for all interactive wagering in the country, and for the most part, the rule was simple: companies aren’t allowed to offer such bets in Australia or two Australians, regardless of where they are headquartered.

There were some notable exceptions. For instance, lottery tickets can be sold via the web, provided that they are not “instant win” games such as scratch cards and the like. The biggest and most important exception comes from sports betting, which is almost entirely legal online. The one main exception to this is in-play betting, which is not permitted (though punters can still make these bets at a retail location or over the phone). Even then, many companies have found ways to almost entirely get around this restriction, using click-to-call buttons to allow gamblers to use their mobile phones to essentially place in-play bets via the web, while technically requiring the use of a “call” in order to confirm them.

On the other hand, no companies are allowed to offer any sort of casino games to Australians, and online poker is similarly prohibited. Yet, despite these rules, many overseas operators have consistently offered such games in the country in the time since the IGA was brought into effect. Most of these companies feel that Australia can be treated as a grey market: one where they are not invited, but one where they won’t get into any trouble by offering real money games, either.

The important thing to note in all this is that there are absolutely no laws – in the IGA or elsewhere – that make it illegal for players to sign up or wager at any gambling site, whether it is a locally regulated bookmaker or an Internet casino hosted in a faraway country. Many of the companies that offer their games to Aussies are among the most respected brands in the industry, meaning there are plenty of excellent and reputable options out there for interested players to choose from.

Aussie Gaming Industry in Flux

Now is a time of great change for the Australian betting industry, with many new regulations and paths being considered by officials at virtually every level. This is true not only of the federal Government, but also in NT itself, where there could be significant change in the near future.

One issue that is sweeping Australia at the time of this writing is the future of greyhound racing. After the industry was rocked by scandals related to the treatment and euthanizing of racing dogs, the NSW and ACT governments decided that enough was enough, and both have pledged to ban the sport altogether starting sometime in 2017.

Most other Australian jurisdictions, however, appear to be coming down on the side of the industry – or are at least taking a wait-and-see approach before making any drastic determinations. In NT, officials say that the much smaller community – usually a downside for the industry, as it makes it hard to attract trainers – has actually been a boon, as the business is treated more as a hobby with few if any of the problems seen in NSW. With only about 140 racing greyhounds in the entire territory, it may well be that oversight is simply much easier here than in other areas.

There are also questions about just how many pokies will eventually be operating in NT, as more than 500 machines have been applied for since the cap was lifted last year. That could mean about a 50% increase in the number of pokies available to residents, a massive increase that may well be only the beginning of a surge that some fear will leave few corners of Darwin untouched by gambling.

Nationally, there is a great deal of anticipation over exactly how the Government will choose to implement the recommendations it has accepted from Barry O’Farrell’s review of offshore gaming sites and other industry issues. Right now, it appears that most of the harshest actions will be taken against overseas firms that are offering games to Australians. According to reports, it’s possible that Internet service providers could be asked to block access to sites that are illegally offering real money play, and that directors of the groups that run such sites could be barred from entering Australia in the future. Bookmakers licensed by NT were generally happy with this, though they were less pleased by a recommendation to continue the restriction on Internet in-play betting, a move that may force Racing Commission officials to force licensees to remove the feature entirely.

While none of these changes is likely to be dramatic – the blocking of foreign sites may have the most impact on players, but it has proven to be only a partially successful tactic in other countries – the summation of all of these potential shifts could lead the gaming industry in a direction towards something that looks quite different than today’s landscape. Those with a vested interest in gaming in Australia and the Territory are advised to keep a close eye on developments over the next few months and years.

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