In Australia, a man has formed a resistance group! The Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA) was created out of inherent fear that a new internet gambling bill might place an unintended ban on Internet poker. The interactive Gambling Amendment Bill forces offshore gambling sites to untangle a completely new web of regulation and licensing requirements to operate in the Australian market. The bill was drafted to protect people with gambling problems and to avert offshore companies from dodging the current regulations that surround live in-game betting.
Joseph Del Duca, an investment banker in Sydney and creator of AOPA, explained to news.com.au in Australia that the bill actually has noble intentions. “The intent of the bill is admirable. It’s not the intent of the bill to ban online poker … it’s just an unfortunate by product of the wording of it.”
He then went on to explain the issue the bill creates, “Offshore operators aren’t allowed to provide services in Australia unless they’re licensed, but these poker sites can’t get licensed in Australia because in relation to the Act, poker is considered a prohibited game.” Although poker is not mentioned specifically, the phrasing of the bill leads to a very likely interpretation that would cause offshore poker sites to shut down operations in Australia entirely.
The larger companies have already started pulling out of Australia in anticipation of the law passing. 888poker.com has already completely pulled out. The former CFO of the parent company that owns the largest poker site in the world, PokerStars, recently signaled the company’s increasing likelihood to opt out of Australia’s internet gaming market as well, if the bill passes. As Mr. Del Duca explained in his interview with news.com.au, The larger companies aren’t out to navigate around Australian laws, they are in the public eye, listed in stock exchanges, and offer worldwide services. This is precisely the reason why he feels Australian politics shouldn’t push them out. Del Duca fears that with the larger and more reputable companies leaving the Australian legal online poker market, the room for the dodgier companies who will to take more risks, gets wider. He continues to argue that these are precisely the types of betting organizations that the bill attempts to protect from.
Del Duca and his newly formed organization have acted and created a petition on change.org to keep online poker in Australia. On the petition, they ask the government to amend the bill to stipulate the exclusion of online poker. A central idea in the petition reads, “As consenting citizens of mature age it is our right to be able to pursue any hobby or past time we choose as long as it doesn’t effect others”.
The petition goes on to explain why poker should be considered separate from the other, more insidious forms of online gambling. Citing one of the primary reasons as poker being a player vs player skill game as opposed to customers competing against a computer with an algorithm designed to take their money. If you live in Australia and love online poker, we highly recommend that you take a moment to read the petition and educate yourself on the changing laws that will affect your hobby!