The extent of Australia’s passion for gambling cannot be overstated. From their well-documented love for pokies of all types to the numerous casinos, dog tracks and other purpose built facilities across the country, gambling is a crucial part of what makes Australia Australian.
Numerous statistics, from a single state having upwards of eighty dog and horse tracks to their being a land based pokie for every 100 inhabitants, clearly signal the integral part gambling plays in everyday Australian society. However, it can be somewhat surprising to learn that online gambling has never quite been adopted in the same way, primarily due to governmental concerns over the regulation of such activities. One such quirk of the regulations is that the government is happy to hand out licences to online casino operators in Australia, but only on the condition that they do not accept registrations from Australian players. This somewhat humorous turn of events has led to Australian gamblers that truly wish to comply with the law seeking out online casinos that are based elsewhere in the world. Fortunately, they are extremely well catered for.
Regardless of the government’s official stance, online gambling continues to thrive in Australia. However, the fact that the majority of the most popular real money online casinos are based abroad means that some of the most popular Australian variations of classic games are in danger of being left behind as they are not well known enough internationally to warrant inclusion in many online casinos.
One such game is Housie. In effect, Housie is the same as bingo in the United Kingdom, although with enough differences to make it notably unique to Australia. The main one of these is that Housie is played with only 75 balls, as opposed to the 90 in the British version. The name of the game derives from the call of players who have marked off every number on their card, or got a house or full house.
Traditionally, Housie was a game that was used across Australia as a fund raiser. It took much longer than other nations for it to develop beyond a simple game that was often played at churches and charity events. However, as with most games with the opportunity to win significant sums of money, it quickly became commercialised and bingo halls sprang up around Australia to join the other gambling establishments across the country.
In terms of online play, Housie faces the same restrictions as other forms of online gambling in Australia, whereby players can play wherever they wish, but local companies cannot sign up local players. Fortunately, the similarity to the British version of bingo meant that the majority of online bingo sites in the United Kingdom could quickly modify their games to offer a 75 ball variation which, in effect, is identical to Housie.
Poker is another game that is surging in popularity in Australia, while also facing difficulties. Of course, Australian versions of the game are not alone in this. There are so many poker variants around the world that it would be nigh on impossible to offer them on a commercial scale. Fortunately, most types of poker have something in common, and fans of local Australian versions have found it simple to adapt their skills to the most popular online versions. Texas Hold’em, for example, is the de facto standard for online poker and has rapidly become the most popular format in Australia, both online and offline. This is evidenced by the growth of massive land based tournaments, such as the Aussie Millions, which regularly attracts international players with a seven figure first prize.
Regarding playing poker online, Australians are once again restricted in a similar way to their general online gambling. They can play anywhere, giving them the opportunity to play at the largest poker sites in the world, but Australian brands still cannot actively recruit and register Australian players without breaking the law.