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Gambling history and facts about gaming in Australasia
Compiled by World Casino Directory Staff, Tuesday Aug 22nd, 2017

The two main gaming powers in the Oceania region are Australia and New Zealand.

European settlers brought with them gambling and it has been a major part of gambling culture in Australia ever since. It started with horse racing over 100 years ago and then spread to lotteries, greyhound racing, Jai Alai and Harness racing. Control of gambling has generally been under State (and Territory) government jurisdiction in Australia.

The gambling industry is big business in Australia, with Australians losing $15 billion on gambling last year. In Australia alone the casino industry has grown substantially in the last twenty years following the widespread introduction and legalization of casinos and gaming machines. With the advent of casinos, the first one was not introduced until 1972, Australians by 1999-2000 were wagering almost $114 billion, over 30 times as much as in 1972-73. By the turn of the last century Gaming machines contributed around 65 per cent of all gambling turnover, led in New South Wales by the gaming on ('poker') machines. Australian harness racing goes back nearly as far as normal horse racing and over 30 tracks are now situated across the country.

Across the water in New Zealand casino gambling came even later than Australia but is now a multi billion dollar business. History was made in New Zealand when the world’s first totalisor sports betting was introduced in both horse racing and greyhound betting. After the New Zealand racing board was set up in 2003 figures showed that racing generates almost 1.3% of the countries gdp – around 1-5 billion dollars per year.

One of the smaller countries of Oceania/Australasia that have gambling is Vanuatu which has casinos, sports betting, poker and a National lottery, all of which were allowed only in the last 20 years. New Caledonia’s capital Noumeau has had 3 casinos which have all opened in the last 20 years, each having table games and slot machines. One more area of this region that has had gambling is the Northern Mariana Islands where the Tinian Dynasty hotel and Casino has been established over 15 years and is the biggest casino outside of Australia and New Zealand.

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