The Australian Senate literally swept all hopes that local players would be given the chance to play online poker legally in the country, as it gave the the green light to a piece of legislation constituting online poker as illegal.
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, which was officially approved by the House of Representatives in June, makes online poker illegal on the territory of Australia. A public note from the Department of Human Resources has confirmed that the new piece of legislation was passed by the Senate on August 9th. The nation-wide ban on online gambling, poker included, is set to go into effect on September 9th.
Despite the fact that the bill was introduced in 2016, its implementation came to a surprise for the everyone who operate in the local industry. Last week, a number of online poker players, gambling industry experts, gambling addictions specialists as well as the Australian Online Poker Alliance gave testimony to five senators, sharing their opinion that the implementation of the bill could have a negative effect on the local gambling industry. A report on the testimony of the committee was even due to be issued on September 21st.
The implementation of the new online gambling bill puts a nation-wide ban on the iGaming industry. The bill comes as an update to the Australian Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. It is aimed at preventing the online gambling and sport betting operators from using the so-called grey areas in the legislation.
In spite of the fact that the new bill was introduced in 2016 and made progress in the middle of 2017, there were still hopes that the local online poker industry may be treated differently, the piece of legislation is to come into effect in a month, imposing a ban on the iGaming market.
An interesting question is raised by the new bill implementation. Under the new regulatory regime, an Australian iGaming license must be acquired by each operator in order for them to offer their products to local customers. However, there is still no special regulatory body entitled with the responsibility to issue such licenses.
The online gambling market’s closure is considered one of the major steps taken by the local Government to protect its customers. For some time now, Australia has been reported as a country that had one of the highest rates of gambling-related addictions on a global scale. The need for better protection of local customers and more vulnerable people has been a paramount goal of local authorities that decided to closing the market is a better choice than leaving the gambling landscape unregulated and uncontrolled.
As a whole, the new Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 is aimed at closing the existing loopholes in the country’s legislation in order to stop illegal online gambling operations and protect more vulnerable customers from becoming a victim to harmful gambling practices. The implementation of the latest amendments in the gambling legislation of the country, however, also led to a number of licensed and trustworthy brands’ departure from the country. The fact that brands such as Vera & John, 888poker and 32Red have left the country disappointed many local players with their decision to withdraw their operation from the country.
The closure of the Australian online gambling market raised some concerns that the country will turn into the next US in terms of iGaming operations, banning all forms of online gaming that are not explicitly proclaimed as legal. Still, the effects of the new bill’s implementation remain to be seen in the months next to come.