The Australian Senate has passed the Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 which placed a ban on internet poker and in-play sports betting.
The Senate has been reviewing the proposed changes since November 2016. The main goal of this law was to close a number of regulatory loopholes. For example, some major operators have been offering in-play betting over the telephone rather than online.
It is expected that such move will encourage main gambling companies to leave the country. Until now, operators Vera&John and 888Poker have already ceased their operations and it is likely that Pokerstars is soon to follow.
Industry experts believe that customers wishing to continue playing poker online will turn to unauthorised websites.
Liberal Democrats Senator David Leyonhjelm, who openly announced his opposition to the amendments, was quoted by HuffPost Australia stating that such changes are “stupid”.
“It’s stupid; if you want to play poker, there are lots of opportunities in Australia, at casinos and tournaments. It’s not as if there isn’t a great deal of poker playing already, but they’re just stopping it online. The whole world is online now” Senator Leyonhjelm said.
“The original 2001 law was meant to stop online gambling of many kinds, but it didn’t, there was a loophole. There is quite an active online poker community in Australia. I don’t think it will succeed for those really determined. If you have a [virtual private network] or offshore account, you will still play. It’s a stupid situation to be in.”
“It will promote the black market. There are ways to circumvent these prohibition approaches. People will gamble using foreign providers by various means. They will be in the hands of sometimes shady providers, and if they get ripped off, they will have no recourse” Leyonhjelm commented on the decision.