The verdict is out and it is a big facepalm. Australian legislators have just shut the door on online poker. The crushing decision was reached yesterday, at the country’s parliament, despite several Senators voicing out their support for the online game. This certainly comes as a big letdown to the Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA) who has been fighting hard for online poker’s exemption from the bill.
Australia bans online poker in amended IGA bill
In a bid to revise the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act and close “loopholes” that allowed for rampant online gambling and match fixing, the Human Services Minister, Alan Tudge, proposed the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016. The bill had noble intentions; to protect problem gamblers from being targeted by sketchy offshore operators. The bill however did not distinguish from any online games, which meant, online poker was part of the list.
In defense of online poker, supporters such as Senator David Leyonhjelm stated,
“Online poker is not a spectator sport. Nobody tries to fix a cricket match as part of an online poker game. There is no public interest in banning it as part of interactive gambling laws.”
There were several other legislators who also exercised their voice of support either on the mic or by vote, however, the hatchet came down and it was a thumbs down for the virtual community.
At this time there are no details as to when it will be in effect, how the law will be enforced, and the consequences of this decision for online players. Everyone will just have to wait and see within the coming weeks.
Brief Q&A with Joseph Del Duca of Australia Online Poker Alliance
Somuchpoker was able to have a brief Q&A with Joseph Del Duca, the main spokesperson for AOPA.
SMP: What are the immediate consequences for Australian players?
Del Duca: It is hard to say what the immediate consequences are for Australian players. Whilst the fate of our amendment is sealed, the law actually hasn’t passed yet so we do not know whether online poker sites will act now or whether they will wait until the law is official. All of the major sites have made it abundantly clear that players’ funds are safe so there is no need for panic. We presume the sites will update their players about the next steps in due course.
SMP: What action is AOPA planning in the coming days / weeks?
Del Duca: The plan is simple. We keep on fighting. If poker teaches us one thing it is that we should never go on tilt and never give up! Today was just round one. We are not going to quit. There is no reason we cannot turn this around and bring online poker back to Australian shores. Keep talking with your friends and peers and keep following the Australian Online Poker Alliance as we continue #AusFight4Poker It is important we stay united as an Australian Poker Community if we are to win this. Minister Mitch Fifield made it abundantly clear that the debate about online poker is one for another day. We say bring it on! We are ready!
Official statement of the Australian Online Poker Alliance
Immediately after the passing of the bill, an official statement was released by the AOPA in their Facebook page.
“As you are by no doubt now aware, our amendment to amend the Interactive Gambling Act (2001) did not pass through the Senate when voted upon today.
We know that this decision has hurt and saddened a lot of the Australian Online Poker Community. Our message to you is – We may have lost today’s battle, but we will win the war.
One thing that all poker players should know that it doesn’t matter if you lose a big pot, as long as you have a chip and a chair you are still in the game. We are definitely still in the game….”
Despite the unfortunate decision, the AOPA’s statement sent an optimistic message to the Australian online poker community promising that the fight for their right to play online poker continues. The fight to play in safe sites than be forced to settle for shady sites also continues. In addition, the statement acknowledged and gave gratitude to all the legislators who believed and assisted in the AOPA’s cause.
Article by Triccia David