Australians have been historically down in the fight for online poker. The country’s new Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill seemed to be the end of any chance at ever hosting a regulated market. However, the Aussie poker community may have just received a lifeline from the Senate.
The Australian Senate recently voted 46-22 in favor of holding an inquiry into domestic online poker. This inquiry is expected sometime before September 14, 2017, meaning that there is a possibility of the current Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill being amended before it officially makes its way through Parliament. These amendments could potentially include provisions for a regulated online poker market.
Prior to the 2016 IGA Bill, the original 2001 IGA prohibited Australian-based online poker sites from accepting residents. Locals could still play in brick-and-mortar establishments that host single games and tournaments. Online poker was still possible through licensed offshore providers. This newly amended IGA draft is attempting to close the loophole that allows Australians access to these offshore sites.
In response to the proposed IGA bill, the Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA) was founded as a collective voice for the Aussie poker community. Founder Joseph Del Duca is pleased with the outcome of the Senate’s vote, but is also aware that the fight is nowhere near over. AOPA’s campaign enlisted the help of thousands of local poker enthusiasts. People contacted their designated MPs through letters, phone calls, social media and emails to voice their concerns on the new IGA and express their interest in a regulated domestic market. Their campaign was quite successful and some members of Parliament even mentioned it while addressing the matter. PokerNews, a popular poker forum, also picked up the story and has been spreading it around and garnering support for AOPA.
Although a valiant effort, AOPA is not the first pro-online poker representation. Senator David Leyonhjelm has been outspoken in disagreeing with Parliament’s IGA proposal. Sen. Leyonhjelm believes that consenting adults should have the right to participate in online poker without any sort of governmental intrusion. He believes that a domestic regulated market will help promote the economy and will keep Aussies playing locally as opposed to playing with offshore gambling sites. Sen. Leyonjelm stated that keeping players out of a legal Australian market will not fix the problem the new IGA is aimed at, but will rather perpetuate it by driving players to outside sources.
It is unclear whether this Senate inquiry will have an effect on the outcome of IGA, but the amount of time before they are required to turn in their appeal could be enough for AOPA to rally enough support. Interested parties are encouraged to use AOPA’s website to remain updated on the situation. Del Duca is also requesting Australian players to start submitting reasons why they believe a safe and regulated online poker industry would be in the country’s best interest. Australia is one of the biggest gambling nations in the world, so it will be interesting to see if the country’s population can outweigh Parliament on this matter. If you’d like to get involved, get more information at the AOPA official website.