• Game or sport

    The words 'game' and 'sport' are not defined in the tax law and take their ordinary meaning.

    The Australian Sports Commission regards sport as 'a human activity capable of achieving a result requiring physical exertion and/or physical skill that, by its nature and organisation, is competitive and is generally accepted as a sport'.

    For income tax exemption purposes, 'game or sport' extends to:

    • non-athletic games such as chess and bridge
    • sports such as motor racing in which machines facilitate the competition of people, and
    • non-competitive activities such as mountaineering.

    Games and sports can be contrasted with endeavours where a thing, object or animal is the essential focus, or where the activities are merely a means to some other end.


    Endeavours such as stamp collecting, coin collecting, body building and train modelling are not games or sports. Similarly, keeping guinea pigs or fish, greyhound racing, or the activities of participants in car owner clubs are not games or sports.


    Dancing may be organised in a game or sport-like manner, however it is commonly a means of promoting sociability, participation and relaxation.

    The nature of the activity must also be considered in the context of determining the club's main purpose.


    Bingo conducted in-house may be regarded as a game. However, in most cases, a club's bingo games would be a minor activity incidental to its main purpose, such as promoting sociability, communal activities or some other purpose.

    The participants must intend that the activities they perform are the activities of a particular game or sport and that the intention and activities must be shared by the other participants.

    A common feature of a game or sport is a set of conventions, expectations and rules. This contributes to the element of organisation that is commonly indicative of a game or sport. The imposition of such rules and conventions in an organised group of participants can convert an otherwise ordinary leisure activity into a game or sport (for example hunting, fishing, and walking).

    Competition is a very common feature although not essential. Competition is an important indicator where the activity is not obviously a game or sport.

    Examples - games or sports

    Athletic activity - aerobics, if competitive; amateur wrestling; athletics including hurdling, jumping, running and walking; boxing; dancing, such as ballroom dancing, if competitive; 'field games', including discus, javelin, shot put and hammer throwing; martial arts such as judo, kung fu, ju-jitsu and karate; mountaineering; orienteering; rogaining; water-based sports including diving, swimming, surfing, surf lifesaving, synchronised swimming and water polo.

    Games or sports played with ball or projectile - badminton; baseball; basketball; bocce; bowling (tenpin); bowls; cricket; croquet; football (all codes); golf; handball; hockey; ice hockey; lacrosse; marbles; netball; softball; squash; table tennis; tennis; underwater hockey; volleyball.

    Activities involving animals - equestrian activities; polo; pony club activities; rodeo activities.

    Sports or activities that involve using equipment to achieve mobility - canoeing; cycling; dragon boat racing; drag racing; go-kart racing; hang-gliding; kayaking; motor-car racing (circuit, rally); motor cross; motorcycle racing; mountain bicycle riding; rowing; yachting.

    Sports or activities that involve using other equipment - abseiling; archery; billiards; darts; fencing; gymnastics; pool; power lifting; snooker; skateboarding; snow sports including bobsled, luge, skiing, ski-jumping and snow boarding; target shooting; waterskiing; weightlifting; windsurfing; wood-chopping.

    Contests involving combinations of activities - triathlons; Highland Games; Olympic Games.

    Card and board games - bridge; backgammon; chess and mah-jong.

    Examples - not games or sports

    Bird-raising, bird-keeping and bird watching; body building; car owners clubs/associations; dancing as a social activity (including ballroom dancing, line dancing, square dancing and Highland dancing); modelling of railways; coin collecting; stamp collecting; playing of gaming or gambling machines; breeding and showing of animals.

      Last modified: 21 Mar 2011QC 23868