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Australia's Online Poker Ban Set To Go Into Effect

Senate On Wednesday Makes Change Official


The Australian Senate on Wednesday put its stamp of approval on legislation that will prohibit offshore online poker sites from doing business in the country. The legislation is set to go into effect in 30 days.

Despite opposition from some lawmakers and supporters of internet poker, the legislation moved through the government and will result in reputable operators leaving the market.

The 2016 Internet Gambling Amendment Bill, which was introduced last fall, was in part designed to close what the government saw as loopholes that let online poker proliferate despite a prohibition dating back to 2001. In other words, a so-called grey market.

The new rules state that online poker companies can’t offer games to Australians unless licensed. But there’s no licensing or regulatory process for online poker like there is for sports betting over the internet. There are no Australian-licensed online poker platforms.

According to a report from the Camden Haven Courier, there are an estimated 130,000 online poker players in the country. Should a foreign company get caught offering online poker to Aussies they reportedly would be subject to a fine of $6.75 million a day.

The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill didn’t just target poker. The legislation also bans betting on a sports game or match that is in progress. Other reforms have been put forward to curb gambling in the country.

Australians spend more on gambling than people anywhere else in the world ($1,000 per person). About 80 percent of Australians gamble in some form, also the highest rate in the world. However, one shouldn’t be fooled into thinking the changes are to reduce the gambling rate.

The Economist reported that although Aussies gamble at a high rate, generating a gambling market worth about $18 billion a year, there isn’t a lot of room for growing the market. “Despite Australia’s profitability, the high level of existing gambling penetration and relatively small population of 23 million make it a relatively mature market without much room for expansion.”

No more online poker could help domestic gambling firms.

Tags: Australia