How Australia became a gambling capital and celebrity supporters

how australia became gaming capital celebrities 2020

While gambling is legal in most countries, Australia has fully embraced it as over eighty percent of adults there engage in it. That’s the highest rate in the world, and many famous faces enjoy either a night at the tables or online. With the Coronavirus taking hold of the world, many are still enjoying their time online.

It comes at a surprise to most foreigners who visit Australia as they come away thinking of kangaroos, boomerangs, the Outback, Sydney Opera House, the Great Barrier Reef but not gambling. For more info in Aussie online gambling for real money.

“What makes Australia unique is that we’ve allowed these machines to be embedded in our local communities,” said Angela Rintoul, a research fellow at the Australian Gambling Research Center, a government-financed organization. “We haven’t contained them just to casinos, where many jurisdictions in the world have.”

In Australia, the pubs, clubs and hotels that house the machines usually resemble typical English pubs, replete with a bar and dining area but with the addition of a dedicated gaming room.

“Often, Australians don’t realize it,” she said of the ubiquity of the machines. “It’s like being a fish in water.”

Australia’s Famous Celebrities Who Like The Pokies


Karl Stefanovic

Ex Today show presenter Karl Stefanovic has never been one to let anybody tell him what to do – which may be the reason he was famously dumped from the TV show. Speaking about the exit a year on from his departure, Karl admits that he wasn’t top of his game, and with a rather large salary it’s no wonder the network decided it was time to cut him loose – even though it was a bit of a shock to receive the news on honeymoon with his new wife.

Karl’s no stranger to the Aussie tabloids, with famous incidents including hosting the Today show still drunk the morning after Australian TV’s ‘night of nights,’ the Logies, a hasty divorce and marriage to a younger woman, and apparently ‘creepy’ interview with Kylie Minogue.

However, he’s also a bit of a fan of a bet or two, spotted hitting the pokies after his exit from Today, as well as being a mate of James Packer, owner of the Crown brand, even hosting his 40th birthday party at the Crown back in 2014.

Currently Karl’s on a new radio gig and trying to maintain a cleaner image out of the public eye.


Russell Crowe

Along with being a rugby league club owner, Crowe is inadvertently involved in gambling industries, with part of the club’s revenue being brought in by poker machines. In 2011 was reported to have been in protest of the Souths corporate partnership, but that seemed to be a lot of hot air as Crowe is known for blowing time to time.

Brendan Fevola

If we’re talking infamy in the AFL bad boys club, then you can be sure to count Brendan Fevola among the top 5. An ex Carlton and Brisbane player, Brendan was a star full forward on the field, but often up to no good behind the scenes.

Brendan’s personal life included scandals that he cheated Alex Cheatham with model Lara Bingle (leading to a divorce no less), theft, bar brawls (including an incident at the Crown Casino!), and claims of flashing.

Fevola has also openly admitted to being addicted to gambling on The Footy Show back in 2011, and mere hours later was asked to leave the Crown Casino after staff caught him at the poker tables. A couple of months after the Crown incident, he was spotted out and about at the Tasmanian casino.

Seemingly putting his woes in the past, Brendan now works for Fox FM alongside Fifi Box on the Fifi, Fev, and Bryon breakfast radio show.

Shane Warne

Larger than life cricket star Shane Warne is last on our list of Aussie personalities who love to have a bet at the casino.

Shane Warne, or Warnie, as he is affectionately known, has often been labelled one of the best bowlers in cricketing history, and was once titled the best cricketer in the world. But what made our mate Warnie tabloid fodder wasn’t his huge successes on the pitch, it was what was happening off the pitch that proved amusing to the Aussie public.

Warnie’s sexting antics were once seemingly a daily news occurrence with a string of women around the world. He famously dated Liz Hurley and suddenly had a serious new facial look plus plenty more hair, couldn’t give up the smokes to save himself, and was papped at Royal Ascot in 2013 with his whole mouth wrapped around a schooner glass.

As far as his affinity for the tables, Warne was famously ambassador for Club 23 at Crown Casino Melbourne, hosted charity poker events on the gaming floor, and even still has fun with other celebs at private games – as witnessed on his Instagram!

These days, Warnie is a respected commentator who has turned down the troublemaking and instead puts in plenty of time doing appearances and hanging out with his kids. Though he definitely has a slightly different and more polished look than the beachy zinc-ed up boy we first saw strut onto the pitch, he’s still got that Warnie cheeky humour about him.

Best Australian Films About the Gaming Industry

broke 2016 movie poster

Broke (2016)

One of the most recent is Broke, a hard-hitting film centred around Australia’s National Rugby League (NRL), a disgraced player, match-fixing and problem gambling. While not a biopic, the NRL has been subject to many allegations of match-fixing as well as problem gambling during the last decade and more, and this film weaves a sad but compelling tale around that.

The Australian-produced and filmed flick was a passion project for Australian director Heath Davis who also wrote the screenplay. Davis said he was inspired to make the movie when he got to know former National Rugby League players in his native Sydney. Some of these players had fallen from grace due to their alleged involvement in match-fixing and had severe gambling problems.

Filmed in Gladstone, Queensland, the film’s gritty depiction of the world of the NRL and its no-holds-barred portrayal of players, especially those with gambling problems, was highly lauded. In fact, Broke won Davis the Best Screenplay at the 2016 SENE Film, Music and Art Festival and earned him a nomination for Best Narrative Feature at the 2017 Fargo Film Festival.

It even received high praise from Australian gambling addiction organisations, groups and counsellors for its accurate portrayal of gambling addiction and for spreading the message that gambling addiction is treatable and should therefore not be stigmatised.

Dirty Deeds (2002)

Fourteen years before Broke was released, Australian film audiences were treated to Dirty Deeds. Written and directed by Australian filmmaker David Caesar, Dirty Deeds is a fun and entertaining story of fast-talking gangster Barry Ryan who single-handedly controls the pokie machine industry in Sydney in the late 1960s.

Ryan’s business is doing particularly well because of the influx of US soldiers on R&R from the Vietnam War who are drawn to his pokie venues. However, news of Ryan’s success soon makes its way across the Pacific to America where it reaches the Mafia. Eager to get their hands on his pokie empire, the Mafia dispatches two hitmen to Sydney to try and ‘persuade’ Ryan to share the wealth, which is where movie mayhem ensues.

The film boasts a solid cast of Australian and American actors including Sam Worthington, Bryan Brown and Toni Collette. They’re joined by John Goodman and Felix Williamson who play Mafia hitmen Tony Testano and Sal Cassela respectively. Sam Neill plays Detective Sergeant Ray Murphy while Kestie Morassi plays Ryan’s mistress Margaret.

Despite being a crime comedy, Dirty Deeds accurately portrays the high demand for pokie machines in Australia in the 1960s – the same demand that exists today. The only difference is that players can now also play hundreds of real money pokies on the internet.

Dirty Deeds was generally well-received in Australia and beyond when it was released and still stands up as an engaging crime caper today.

Oscar and Lucinda (1997)

Five years before the release of Dirty DeedsOscar and Lucinda (1997) hit the big screen to much fanfare for its poignant storyline and talented Australian and British cast and crew. Directed by award-winning Aussie film and documentary maker Gillian Armstrong from a script by fellow Australian Laura Jones, the film is set in the mid-1800s.

It follows the story of Oscar Hopkins, a young and spirited Anglican priest from England and Lucinda Leplastrier, a wealthy teenage heiress and glass factory owner from Australia who seeks to change the male-dominated culture of her country, and their life-changing wager.

Both avid casino gamblers, Oscar and Lucinda meet and bond at a card game on a ship traveling from England to Australia. Lucinda bets Oscar her entire fortune that he can’t transport a glass church she’s had built to the Outback safely, and Oscar accepts. What follows is a dramatic and romantic series of events that alters their lives forever.

The film was well received Down Under for its gambling / wagering storyline, and its strong Australian and international cast. Oscar is played by multiple Academy Award-nominee Ralph Fiennes and Lucinda by multiple Academy Award-winner Cate Blanchett. Other key actors include Ciaran Hinds as the Reverend Dennis Hasset, Tom Wilkinson as Hugh Stratton and Geoffrey Rush who narrates the film.

The film was mainly shot in and around Sydney and across the state of New South Wales. Although it wasn’t a box office success, critics and viewers alike applauded the performances of two leads. The film also won a slew of awards and even received a nomination for Best Costume Design at the 1998 Academy AwardsOscar and Lucinda achieved a 66% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

You might want to check out West of Sunshine and Silent Partner also as they are close contenders to this list.

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