The Internet is full of websites claiming to be the best guide or know the best online casino to play real money pokies at, but the reality is there are literally thousands of sites that will accept your custom and give you a safe wagering experience.
Probably the question I get asked the most in this industry is why are articles written about this industry? Well, it is lucrative, that’s why. Many affiliate websites, like this one, work on a Cost Per Acquisition or a revenue share model. Basically, if you follow the links to the various casinos, the site that sent you there will take a percentage of the money you lose or they will receive a set amount per click or depositing player.
Many of these same affiliate websites are run by overseas interests and don’t really consider whether a pokies site caters to Australians – they are just in it to make a quick buck. Obviously, we aim to make money out of the industry too, but we are a small team of Australians intent on providing honest information to our readers.
Are real money online pokies legal in Australia?
As of February 28, 2017, Australia is classified as a country operating under ‘grey’ laws when it comes to online pokies. This means Australian law fails to address online wagering specifically, hence we are currently legally able to play at online casinos, and in turn, the pokies.
The IGA states it is illegal to operate an online casino from Australian shores or an Australian jurisdiction, but there is nothing stopping us from playing at ‘offshore casinos’ and no one has ever been charged with playing at an online casino.
Having said this it appears Australia is in for a major shake-up of its gambling laws over the coming months, with the IGA Amendment Bill 2016 due to be voted on by the Senate towards the end of March. This amendment bill will specifically address online casinos and poker sites and make it illegal for them to target Australians if they are based offshore.
The bill, put forward by Human Services Minister Alan Tudge, has copped some serious flack for lacking foresight and is set to mobilise angry poker players around the country. Several politicians, including Liberal Democrats Leader David Leyonhjelm have called for amendments to the bill, but we won’t know how it will play out until the Senate sits again.
For now though, real money pokies are 100% legal, and can be played by Australians who have a Visa card or are familiar with various other types of deposit methods.
What is the best online casino for real money pokies?
Don’t be fooled into thinking there is only a handful of casinos that are safe to play online with. Some of the most respected brands in the world including William Hill, Bet365 and Ladbrokes all have extensive online casinos that are basically the same casinos with different skins.
These brands are not available to Australians because they also operate in the sports wagering space in Australia, hence can’t risk their legitimate business by operating in a grey market. But the good news is there are thousands of casinos that will accept Australian dollars and display your balance in the same currency.
A few of the more respected online pokies providers include Microgaming and Net Ent with both these companies having 100s of different titles to choose from. Finding a casino to play pokies at is relatively simply. Just remember these few things.
Licensing: If it’s not licensed in the UK, Malta, Gibraltar, Isle of Man or a handful of other respected gambling jurisdictions, steer clear.
Deposits: You need to be able to fund your account, if they don’t have the deposit method you are after, try another casino. Visa, web wallets (Neteller etc) and bank transfers are all popular and easy ways for Aussies to fund a casino account.
Game selection: If you walk into a casino blind they may not have the games you are looking for. For instance you might be after themed pokies games or a game based on sports.
Bonus offers can be dodgy: More about this below, but make sure you are aware of the restrictions on any bonus amount a casino is offering. Yes they increase your bankroll, but they can also cost you in the long run.
If a casino is not run in Australia, where is it based?
The internet has no boundaries, just because something is not licensed to run in Australia, doesn’t mean it isn’t safe. If that’s the case we are opting not to trust countries like the United Kingdom and Malta, two of the most respected online casino jurisdictions in the world. It’s simply a scare campaign to say “Australians will be safer with legislation banning offshore casinos”.
There are many countries who have set up gambling bodies to regulate online casinos and while not all are as respected as the United Kingdom Gambling Commission, most have some level of integrity. It just pays to check out the fine print of a casino and if you can’t find things like a license number and contact address go the other way.
Another thing to look for in the fine print is an eCOGRA seal of Approval, which indicates the casino is audited regularly by an independent third party. It also provides the player with a dispute resolution service if you have been hard done by.
In an ideal world Australia would have licensing that allows online casinos, adding another layer of comfort to online gambling, but the constant scare campaigns about offshore wagering are simply false if you engage your brain before playing online pokies. Politicians biggest concerns are that we have no put in the framework to tax online casinos.
Why real money pokies are better online
Obviously for many people visiting the local pub or club that features pokies is a social event and no online equivalent is going to replicate that, but there are some serious pros to playing online.
House edge: Each Australian state will have regulations surrounding pokies payouts. This could say 87% per cent of all money put into a pokie must be returned to player (RTP). In fact in Australia the highest payout per centage is 87% in a land-based venue. Online pokies can be as high 97% RTP which means you have a greater chance of walking away a winner. This is possible because there are less overheads associated with online play.
A huge range of slots: There is only so many times you can play Queen of the Nile at the local. Online there are casinos with over 1000 different pokies games available. Not all of them are brilliant but there is definitely a good percentage that feature outstanding graphics and gameplay that will keep a player entertained for hours. A good place to find a game you want to play is our pokies reviews.
Minimum/maximum bets: Online the limits can be much higher and the prizes can be much bigger. Because these pokies are not having to pass Australian laws they are allowed to offer more variation in bet limits.
The 10 best pokies for March 2017
Huangdi The Yellow Emperor: Microgaming’s 25 payline pokie reminds us of The Great Wall movie and while there’s no Matt Damon, there are Expanding symbols and Free Spins for big wins.
Divine Fortune: This title by NetEnt features upgraded Greek mythology graphics and a progressive jackpot which players all around the world can try to win.
Beauty and the Beast: Yggdrasil takes you down memory lane not only with the theme – based on the iconic fairy-tale – but with the format too, featuring the classic nudge feature.
Starburst: NetEnt’s revamp of a fruit machine will never go out of fashion due to the win both ways format and the chance to win up to 50,000 coins easily.
Immortal Romance: While the vampire fad is over, Microgaming’s multi-level pokie is still in and once you’ve unlocked all the bonuses on the 243 ways to win title you will see why.
Spinions Beach Party: Quickspin has created a quirky title which reminds us of the Minions and gives players Sticky Wild ReSpins and Free Spins.
Fa-Fa Twins: Chinese themes have been done time and time again but BetSoft makes this one interesting with the incredible 3D graphics and dual reel technology.
Wild Wild West: With a comic book aesthetic, NetEnt keeps things simple in the west with 30 free spins on offer and a Click Me bonus feature.
Blood Suckers: This title by NetEnt will always be a blood sucking favourite since it features a 98% RTP – one of the best payout rates for a poker machine on the web.
Thunderstruck II: An oldie but a goodie – Microgaming keeps players coming back to the mythological title thanks to the four levels available to unlock for huge payouts.
Are pokies bonuses and free spins a scam?
Yes and no. The are what they are and that is a way to increase your bankroll. The thing you have to remember is that there are restrictions placed on this bonus cash. These are things like you needing to wager the bonus amount 30x before you can withdraw it or there might be a cap on the amount you can win from a bonus amount. For instance some of the more stringent online casinos cap your winnings at $200 AUD.
This can be heartbreaking if you jag a major jackpot and increase your bonus amount significantly, only to be told it’s worth $200 in total. Just do your research and check the bonus requirements before you commit to taking a casino bonus to use on pokies. Our casino reviews, available from the table above, will give you a run down of each casino’s bonuses.
The benefit for pokies players is that in most cases this game will clear the wagering requirements at 100%, meaning every bet you make on a pokie will count. Other games like blackjack and poker might only clear wagering requirements at 10%, meaning you have to play a lot longer to cash out.