Australia Reinforces Online Poker Ban
After years of waiting, and nail-biting suspense on the part of online poker sites, the verdict has finally been delivered, and it doesn't look good for online poker players.
Australia has officially placed a ban on online poker, and it has been signed into law, after passing through the required legislative process. The Senate notified the general public of its decision to amend the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016.
The news is a bitter pill to swallow for not just online poker players but also industry giants. The news has seen notable poker companies like Party Poker, and PokerStars stop offering games in Australia.
What is the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill all about?
It was in 2001 that the Australian legislators first made giant strides in ensuring all online poker games were classified as illegal to Australians. The 2001 Interactive Gambling Act, was signed into law to that effect. But there was a form of reprieve for online poker companies in Australia and players, as the 2001 act had some unusual wordings that companies were able to exploit, and thus operate successfully without any penance. Seeing the loophole that was exploited, the House of Representatives sought to amend things, and this brought about the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016.
Although there are certain provisions in the law which allow licensed establishments to provide online poker services, there is no agency set up to issue any of such required licenses. A shrewd move by the House of Representatives it would seem.
The penance of any violations of the amendment bill can be over 1 million dollars in fine. Well the good news, if anyone can see it as such, is that the amended bill doesn't state that playing online poker is a crime. The only persons (entities) the bill finds wanting, are those who provide online poker.
What most people find strange, and believe us when we say it is odd, is the fact that general sports betting is allowed under the new law albeit with certain limitations and restrictions such as the prohibition of live betting, and in-play betting. It would seem the lawmakers are confused in a way because if their goal is to prohibit the adverse effects of gambling (which they claim is their aim), then all forms of gambling should be stopped including sports and not just online poker alone.
Although the details of why there is this law against online poker remain unclear, it is not hard to guess that money and politics are at play once again. A wild guess will suggest that this law was put in place to favor industrial giants and help shield their returns and profits. We can safely assume that industrial giants like TABCORP and big money shots like James Packer are the powerhouses behind this law. It would seem they became tired and jealous that foreign online poker companies were attracting their client base, and swallowing up their money. It is the hope that things will take more favorable turns in the near future, and regulations will be less complicated to meet, making it possible for Australian online poker fans to have access to play without the fear of any punishment.
Is online poker complete dead in Australia?
Online poker isn't completely banished in Australia, and despite the laws, there are still some sites that offer their services to Australian customers. Such companies will have to operate in some tight regulations in other to meet the required standards set. Failure to do this, will main they stand a chance of losing their license. For some, keeping up with the highly regulated framework isn't worth the risk, and they simply close their sites to Australians. A recent example is 888poker which shut its doors to Australians in January.
On the other hand, there are companies that are finding a way to provide their services to Australians, and they are doing so by operating in an unregulated market despite its glaring risks. These companies operate from jurisdictions that enable online gambling globally, in line with the World Trade Organization rules. One of such companies is Ignition poker, and which has just recently opened its doors to Australians.
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