14 Apr

State and Federal Regulations for Online Poker Players in the US: Do They Affect Pokies Players in Australia?

According to Alan Feldman, Executive Vice President of MGM resorts, the main concern for online poker players on a state-to-state basis is whether they move around a lot from state to state. This is because the laws in each state in the US vary on their rules on online Poker and certain players may live in more than one place throughout the year, which would make them susceptible to different laws at different times.

If a player were to live in one state and play there where online poker is legal, but then say over the weekend go to a second home or perhaps commute to a different state for work, which many people in the US do, then this could put the player at danger is he or she is not mindful of local laws.

Contrarily, if a Federal law were to pass that had a standard for the whole nation to follow then players would not be susceptible to such differences. However, Feldman, who was speaking at the recent Global Gaming Expo does not anticipate a timeline for a Federal Law to pass any time soon, so players will have to be mindful of their playing, especially when it is online and hard to forget that while the Internet has no boundaries, the places where online poker in the US can be played does.

However, even if a Federal bill were to pass states in the US still have the right to choose whether they participate or not, so there is always going to be a certain level of state decision making one way or the other, said Feldman.

Nevada and New Jersey have regulated online poker gaming and there is rumor that they may compact in some way to allow for cross-regulations to apply for gamers across the two states. This could influence the decision on the Federal side of things in the US, but Feldman said he remains skeptical, as the US government does not have a good reputation for creating bills and passing them due to minor laws being passed in individual states. However, Feldman believes that once states issue notice to the Federal Government that they are losing money to players outside of the state for whatever reason it is likely that local lawmakers will seek lawmakers on the Federal end to deal with the issue. The economics of the situation will be key, added Feldman.

In Australia meanwhile, ABC News Australia reports that Australians are throwing huge chunks of money into offshore online poker gaming sites and are getting around laws even though most of the sites management is located Down Under. Authorities reportedly do not pay enough attention to such activity and it is easy for players to get jump through loopholes.

Analysts estimate that about AU$1 billion is spent in online casino games offshore, many of which are located offshore, as nearly 30% of Australians partake in the gambling experience. That number is expected to continue increasing, according to many experts in the field.

Many Australians engage in gaming from online poker sights in the US that are technically not blocked and barely managed from authorities on both sides. Australian credit cards can also be used on US online casino sites as well and the casinos accept Australian dollars.

But what are authorities really worried about? Analysts say it is not about the well being of their poker players but rather the high sums of money being filtered out of Australia into offshore gambling sites that should otherwise be detected and taxed in the nation. There is talk that Australian authorities would make efforts in banning online casino games but prohibition wouldn’t help, the analysts said, adding that there needs to be a more controlled environment in which players can be monitored.

Essentially then, amid this scenario online Pokies players, whether they are in Australia or New Zealand, are therefore not really affected by laws in the US in terms of whether they will face negative consequences. It doesn’t matter if a player in New Zealand or Australia is playing a video poker game based out of a certain state in the US, as that will only affect the people running the company in the US. Pokies players meanwhile need to make sure of their own laws in their country of origin and make their own clear judgment about whether there is risk involved.

The Australian government however is likely to continue liberalizing laws related to online Pokies but may try to do so for the benefit of Australia in order to monitor taxes and reap benefits from the industry. How that will further play out and if it is possible for the government to do so is another question.

Other analysts meanwhile say that having such strict laws on online Pokies playing is unfair, as it is a form of entertainment. If, say, a Chinese were to arrive in Australia, play a poker game and then pay out money, would it make sense that the Chinese government would want to benefit from that casino’s winnings? Of course not, and that never happens with entertainment or even goods in general. The country in which the game is of origin is responsible for paying taxes appropriately, just as it is with any company when consumers from abroad buy their goods outside of national borders, so many people in the industry are hoping the industry should go in their favor and the government should back down from voicing concerns on the issue.

It is highly unlikely as well that the Federal government in the US would work with Australian lawmakers to pass such laws based on monitoring online Pokies but who knows. Even if it does, players have clever ways through playing on VPNs and creating accounts abroad etc. to get through the loopholes so it is best that both sides come to terms with the industry and accept it like other industries. Otherwise, the repercussions of trying to block it may be more costly and unproductive than they are worth, the analysts added.