Regulations have been in the works for some time in Australia that would lead to online poker gaming becoming an illegal activity. Online poker falls into a gray area in the country with operators offering services without the activity being explicitly legal. Last year, the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 was introduced and operators as well as players began to worry about the future of online poker as well as casino gaming. Such operators as Vera&John along with 888poker pulled out of the country in fear of the activity being ruled illegal.
The bill, supported by the Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge, would change the current gambling laws in Australia to remove loopholes that have been used to create a gray area when it comes to online gambling. The main purpose of the amendment was to put a stop to illegal ‘in-play’ sports betting. The laws of the country allow in-play sports betting but the wagers have to take place via telephone.
Today, with the internet in place, operators have been able to get around regulations as mobile telephones are being used to place wagers. Along with the in-play betting changes, the gaming law would prohibit any games from taking place that are not specifically legal. This would include the game of poker.
Online poker is still taking place today and a new advocacy group has formed in the country to try and see the industry remain in place. The Australian Online Poker Alliance is working to bring legislators to their side. Senator David Leyonhjelm is a member of the Liberal Democratic Party who has seen the plight of poker players and introduced legislation that would benefit the game. The amendment by Leyonhjelm would carve-out online poker and blackjack within the bill so that these games can continue to take place.
For now, players have the ability to enjoy the game of poker and it will be a wait and see approach as to if other legislators will be on board with legalized online poker as part of the new gaming amendment bill.