Online Poker To Be Banned in Australia

On March 21st, the Australian Sentate passed the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill (2016), meaning online wagering on live sporting events is now one short step away from being illegal. However, a range of other online gambling products have also been included in the bill, most noticeably poker.

Furthermore, while the bill states that online poker operators can only offer their products having first obtained an official license, there is currently no such regulatory process in place, thus leaving online poker companies with no other option but to exit the country, or else face hefty fines.

Australia has a thriving gambling industry estimated to be worth around $20 billion per annum, with online gambling its fastest-growing sector. Following the country’s Senate approving the bill, with the House of Representatives expected to swiftly do likewise, Australian poker players are now faced with their own Black-Friday scenario, just like the one their American counterparts did back in 2011.

There are further motivations for operator to adhere to the law, too, as anyone found flaunting the rules will likely be shut out of any future regulated Australian online poker market should it ever become regulated. While this led 888Poker to take the precaution of withdrawing its product in January, PokerStars has remained thus far, but is now likely to soon follow suit. Commenting on the dramatic development, a company representative stated:

“We have serviced the Australian poker community for many years, and although it will come as scant consolation for some real money players living there, should the bill pass we will continue to offer free to play products within the jurisdiction. We remain dedicated to growing the game of poker.”

Of course, this will be of no consolation for the country’s legion of professional players who rely on the game to for a living, including the likes of mjw006, Deanuzz, and Jonathan “xMONSTERxDONGx” Karamalikis. Last year, Jackie Glazier, too, signed a sponsorship deal with partypoker which now seems shakier than ever, and has subsequently tweeted a message expressing how devastated she was over the dramatic news.

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