Australia Moves to Make Online Casino Gaming Illegal
In recent months, Australian gambling laws have been in the process of undergoing changes, causing several operators to leave the market altogether, including some of the largest online operators such as 32Red, 888Poker, and Vera&John. In the last week, The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 has completed its final step to become law. Australian Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, first introduced the bill back in November, in an effort to modify online gambling laws, first established in 2001, existing within the nation. The new bill was initiated to bring clarity to the original Interactive Gambling Act, as many believed it was not completely cohesive regarding the legality of iGaming services throughout the nation. In fact, the only aspect of the online gambling sector that had been clear, without question, was that concerning online sports betting. Under the prior regulations, sports betting had been unquestionably legal, while other categories such as poker and online casino games were left neutral. As a result of the ambiguity, operators had the green light to target Australian players for more than a decade. Thus, the 2016 bill came into the picture to provide coherence, and set out to prohibit unlicensed iGaming services, but did not address the idea of international operators legally entering the market. As the new bill is officially signed into law, Australian players are in for some significant changes, primarily in reference to all online casino games being illegal, including poker. While many operators fled the market at the first sign of change, including those previously mentioned and several iGaming brands of Gaming Innovation Group, online poker room, PokerStars, was one of the few who chose to wait it out. However, upon the bill being signed, the popular poker brand finally made the announcement that it will terminate its services to Australian players in mid-September. Though the nation’s online poker community has made every attempt to overturn the newly clarified illegality regarding online casino games, it hasn’t gotten very far. In light of the newly instated ban, the Australian Senate’s Environment and Communications References Committee took some time to hear from lawmakers, locals, and others associated with Australia’s online poker industry, which included the advantaged of legalizing online poker. Further efforts are expected to materialize regarding a reversal of the ban. In fact, a report is in the works by committee members, which will allow individuals to express their thoughts on the current status of online casino games. September 21st serves as the expected publishing date for the report. As of now, it is unclear whether or not such efforts are for naught. Only time will tell.