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.

The opposition towards the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act

It has to be said that it wasn’t a smooth ride for the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act before it could come into law. Through all the processes involved from the first reading down to the second reading, various amendments, and numerous debates, there was always a strong opposition to the act. The Australian Online Poker Alliance, an organization centered on the welfare and interest of players, tried all it could to oppose the bill. The notable actions of Senator David Leyonhjelm also acted as an opposition to the bill. It was the senator that led other of his colleagues to push for an inquiry into online poker and see if the people have gained success from it or misery. The Australian Online Poker Alliance encouraged players to submit a written document with their personal experiences about the game on or before the deadline of July 21. The expectations were that the reports of the inquiry would be presented sometime in September, leading many to believe that the final passage of the bill will have to be postponed to a later date. Sadly, the Senate had other thoughts, and they moved the motion of enactment of the bill before the report was finalized.

The long-awaited report was finally delivered on October 18th. What the AOPA and online players were hoping to be a reading in their favor, leading to the legalization of online poker gaming, turned out to be a call for an extended study on the effects of regulatory approaches. The committee in charge of the report seemed a bit apprehensive in speaking in favor of a regulated online poker market, due to the absence of a watertight consumer protection in place. Furthermore, it was recommended that unless there is an establishment of a robust National Consumer Protection Framework, no expansion of Internet gambling should take place. By the looks of things, protection framework isn’t going to be completed anytime soon, so things may take a while to align.

We mentioned earlier of how Senator Leyonhjelm strongly opposed the bill right from its inception. Although he didn’t achieve any success, nobody can fault his efforts at the end of the day. During the second reading of the amendment, Senator Leyonhjelm was very vocal in his opposition he was quoted saying

Senator Leyonhjelm also made it clear that online poker shouldn’t be treated as a more adverse form of gambling, and when looked at broadly it doesn’t carry the same weight of consequences as another form of gambling. This comment along with that of a colleague who opposed the bill with him was sighted at the back of the report and not within the report itself. This highlights the fact that Leyonhjelm was a one-man army who had little or no support from his colleagues.

So, what do Australian Poker Fans Do?

The option of using a VPN always comes to mind when Australian online poker fanatics want to bypass the restrictions put in place. Although the VPN route sounds good, it also comes with its own limitations and inconveniences. How would you receive your cashouts? Think about the stress of opening a foreign account, and address as well. To make the finding process easy for you, we’ve created an Australian online poker guide detailing the best poker sites Australians can play in without the need of any VPN. You will be surprised to see who makes our number 1 pick. The lawmakers can say all they want, as long as it’s your money, you are free to do anything with it.

It has to be mentioned that using the standard currency may prove to be a challenge especially when you are dealing with offshore gambling sites, so to make the process easy for you, you might have to carry out your online poker transaction using Bitcoin. Trust us when we say, it saves you on so many hassles and challenges along the way.