Visitors to northern Australia: debating the history of Indigenous gambling

Document Type

Conference publication

Publication details

Breen, H 2007, 'Visitors to Northern Australia: debating the history of Indigenous gambling', in I McDonnell, S Grabowski & R March (eds), CAUTHE 2007 : tourism - past acheivements, future challenges, Manly, NSW, 11-14 February, University of Technology Sydney, Sydney, NSW. ISBN: 9780646469980

Peer Reviewed



Was gambling introduced to Indigenous Australians by British colonists in 1788 or was it introduced by Macassan fishermen much earlier? Using a variety of literature resources it is argued that Indigenous Australian gambling did exist in regions along Australia’s northern coastlines in pre-colonial times due to the influence of Macassan fishermen. Using an anthropological model, the adoption of card games and gambling is seen as an adaptive response to changes in the lives of Indigenous Australians. It is also argued that Binde’s (2005) four conditions for predicting the presence of gambling in traditional societies are not reliable indicators for predicting gambling by Indigenous Australians in northern Australia in pre-colonial times.