An End to Aussie Online Poker
The Australian Government this week passed an ammendment to a bill that will see the end of online poker in the country. In 2011 the government passed the Interactive Gambling Bill. This legislation allowed for online sports betting and lotteries but did not cover casino or poker. It allowed online poker operators such as; 888, PokerStars and PartyPoker to dominate the market. This week the government passed a second reading of an amendment which seeks to ban all online casino and poker operators from the market.
A Senator Speaks Sense
The Lib Dem Senator, David Ean Leyonhjelm attempted to place an exclusion on the bill which would allow online poker. In his speech to the Chamber, the Senator explained that many Australians play poker in pubs and clubs throughout the country (read the full speech here), he said;
What we are basically saying here is that one kind of playing poker is okay, but another kind of playing poker is not okay because it is online. Seriously! This is the 21st century.
That amendment fell on ‘deaf ears’ and was voted 46-6 against. The bill will now go to a third reading and then a vote in the House of Representatives and is expected to become law thereafter.
Players Forced to Play Illegally Online
Once again, we see politicians with no knowledge of online gaming making decisions that force law-abiding citizens to end their online poker or play at illicit operators such as Americas Card Room or Bodog (now called PaiwangLuo).
The legislation states that the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority) should work with International Regulatory Authorities so that they can be notified of online gaming operators who flout the law. Basically, ‘grass’ on any UK or Malta (for example) licensed online gaming operators that service Australians.
Without doubt the licensed online casino and poker operators will leave the market. 888 already withdrew in January. They did so in order to protect it’s US online licenses in New Jersey, Delaware and Nevada. Amaya has already informed shareholders that it is likely to follow suit. To give an idea of size of the Australian online poker market, it represents 2.5% of Amaya revenues. 888 is a stronger brand than PokerStars in Oz. Expect the rest of the usual suspects to bailout pretty soon.
An Ounce of Hope
The House of Representatives sit on a Mondays and Thursdays. The amendment to the bill was not listed for ratification today. Unless listed next week, it will not be until May. The House of Representative breaks for ‘barbecue season’ or something else until then.
This will give Senetor Leyonhjelm and Joseph Del Duca of the Austrailain Online Poker Alliance some breathing room. The alliance could push for an inquiry, using the delay to educate the Members (Think ‘octogenarians with ear trumpets’). Hopefully, they can make them understand what online poker actually is and how it isn’t all that evil. No, not gonna happen is it?