Glimmer of Hope for Australian Online Poker Players?September 14, 2017 11:16 am
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016 that was approved by Australia’s federal government and went into effect on September 9th has led to the exodus of numerous major poker operators from the county, including 32Red, 888Poker, and most recently PokerStars.
While online poker failed to gain the support needed to have it excluded from the list of gambling games listed in the bill, it appears a ray of light for Australia’s poker players exists after all following an online notice posted by Senator David Leyonhjelm this week stating “Victory for online poker on the cards.”
Leyonhjelm was the politician who a few months back advised poker players in the eventuality of the bill passing to “screw the government” and carrying on playing poker online via the use of a virtual private network. Leyonhjelm never gave up hope of securing a carve out for the game, though, and having recently carried out a bit of horse trading with the federal government, Leyonhjelm posted his surprise announcement stating that the government was now favorably disposed to exempting online poker players from the proposed bill after all.
Calling the development a victory “in-principle”, Leyonhjelm says that the question now is “how to make it happen in practice.” With this in mind, the Communications Minister Mitch Fifield is now looking into the matter, and has ordered his department to “undertake some preliminary work examining the feasibility of Australian onshore providers obtaining licenses to operate online poker.”
Tempering any optimism, Leyonhjelm has warned that any acceptance of online poker will first need “party room approval,” although Fifield has reportedly stated that he already has the support of Alan Tudge, the Human Services Minister who originally oversaw the whole legislative process that drafted the amendments to the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill.
Needless to say, the situation is still up in the air, with no details available on whether those operators who have quit the Australian market would be permitted to return, or whether the government may be considering a ring-fenced poker pool rather than one open to participation by other countries. In any case, any potential progress on the matter should become a little clearer by next month.