It came to Casino Guardian’s knowledge that the Australian Government could soon lift online poker restrictions thanks to the efforts of the Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm.
At the beginning of August, the federal Government of Australia approved the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, under which stricter regulatory regime on the country’s gambling market was imposed. The new piece of legislation also limited online gambling operations to sports betting only.
New Feasibility Study
This, however, could change as a result of months of lobbying by the Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA), which called for some changes in the legal and regulatory regime of the online poker in Australia. As it came to our knowledge, the Government has been considering possible reforms that could be favourable to the local market, as they would stop the connection between Australian online poker players and illegal wagering on off-shore poker websites.
This week, one of the major AOPA supporters, Senator David Leyonhjelm, released a statement revealing that the Communications department had been instructed by Minister Mitch Fifield to start some preliminary work on a special feasibility study. The new feasibility study is focused on issuing licenses to selected online poker providers and would change current regime.
According to Senator Leyonhjelm, Communications Minister Fifield had indicated that he received the support of the Human Services Minister Alan Tudge. The latter was heading the implementation of recommendations made by the Australian Government in the Illegal Offshore Wagering Review.
Senator Leyonhjelm further explained that the more important thing is related to the Government’s approach to making online poker legal. He reminded that gambling is mainly a matter related to the states, while taxation and communications issues are Commonwealth matters. That as why the Senator shared his concern that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) could not be the most appropriate regulatory authority for taking care of these matters.
He also went further, suggesting that the federal Government should consider creating a special regulatory body similar to the UK Gambling Commission in order to be able to evaluate properly both the risks and benefits related to online gambling.
Online Poker Brands
In August, the online poker giant PokerStars revealed its decision to join the ranks of iGaming and poker companies that flee from the country in order to avoid the more unfavourable regulatory regime imposed on the industry. The company’s official withdrawal took effect on September 11th.
Another online poker operator which was forced to shut its operations in the country due to the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill, was partypoker. The company also announced its exodus from the Australian online poker market in the middle of August, with its services becoming unavailable for local customers as of August 31st. The operator blamed the new piece of legislation which changed the Australian gambling market environment for the exit.
However, with a new feasibility study being considered by the Government, the absence of two of the world’s largest online poker brands could be not as long as it was expected to be.
The new Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill was aimed to close some existing loopholes in the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 and to minimise the number of illegal iGaming operators in the country. However, a large number of large gambling companies, including online poker operators, blamed the country’s Government for making the Australia’s gaming market environment less tolerable to foreign operators. As a result, a large number of leading, safe and reputable companies chose to leave the market rather than suffer sanctions.