There’s a heavily supported bill on the table in Australia that would amend the Interactive Gambling Act. The purpose, as explained by legislators, is to restrict in-play betting and reduce the prevalence of problem gambling in the country. However, it would also spell the end of online poker in Australia.
With that in mind, one organization is urging parliament to alter the text of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill. The Australia Online Poker Alliance (AOPA) is pushing hard to save online poker, and its campaign is gaining momentum rapidly.
The nation’s online poker players are encouraged to sign the petition of the AOPA, which explains their position on the current bill, and why they believe its text must be changed, before it’s too late.
Alan Tudge, Minister of Human Services, first announced in April of 2016 his intentions to rid Australia of a growing addiction to gambling by tightening restrictions on in-play sports betting. Then in November, the blueprint for his plan was revealed.
Not only did it include the aforementioned in-play betting rules, it went several steps further to include online gambling literature that would prohibit any offshore gambling website from accessing the Australian market without a licence. However, obtaining a licence mandates compliance with current Australian law, which strictly prohibits the operation of online casino and online poker websites.
Request For Online Poker Exclusion
“This is a good initiative and something that is broadly supported by the Australian Poker Community,” said the Alliance in its petition. “However, as the Bill is currently written it will spell the end of online poker in Australia.”
The Alliance goes on to explain that the “overwhelming majority” of online poker sites frequented by Aussies are operated from overseas. No online poker sites are licenced in Australia, as per current law.
“The difference is, these are not small cowboy operations set up externally to exploit Australian laws,” the Alliance expounded. “These are large publically listed companies listed on large scale economic centres such as the London Stock Exchange.”
The organization of crusaders to save online poker don’t believe it is the intention of the government to put an end to online poker in Australia. But in its current context, “online poker will become a casualty of this bill, destroying a pastime enjoyed by many Australians.”
The AOPA is beseeching the government, not to scrap this important piece of legislation, but to “amend the Bill to stipulate the exclusion of online poker.”
Evidence Supports Poker as Game of Skill
The Alliance has backed up its claims that poker is a popular hobby and pastime, enjoyed by consenting adults, that does not effect others, with evidence from recognized researchers.
In 2012, the Department of Broadband, Communications and the Digital Economy released a review of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 that found online poker is different from electronic gaming machines (pokies), and is, in part, a game of skill, with a social element that limits the losses of players by contributing to a collective pot.
In that report, University of Sydney’s Deputy Director of Gambling Treatment Clinic and Research Group, Dr. Sally Gainsbury, found that online poker has a “ relatively low likelihood of leading to gambling problems.”
At time of writing, the Australian Online Poker Alliance’s petition has 1,639 supporting signatures. It needs 2,500 (861 more) before it can be submitted to the government for consideration.