Australia is a very important location in the world of poker.
Just think of the Aussie Millions, one of the world’s best known tournament series, taking place every January in the Aussie summer. It is usually attended by the biggest names in poker, and has events as big as a A$100K buy-in.
Australia can also so boast some impressive poker venues. The biggest ones are the Crown Sydney Casino and The Star Sydney. They even have a casino in the middle of a scarcely populated desert – it’s the Lasseters Hotel Casino in Alice Springs.
Also, the Aussie Millions is far from being the only major poker event ever held in Australia. The continent-nation was home to WSOP International Circuit and World Poker Tour events as well. They also have the Australian Poker Tour, their very own nationwide tourney series.
That is why it was so devastating when a 2017 amendment to their 2001 Interactive Gambling Act made online poker completely illegal in the country. Unlike in some countries with online gambling bans, the government went after off-shore operators very hard, threatening them with hefty fines and blocking their URL’s. This forced the biggest players, such as PokerStars, 888, or partypoker, to pull out of the market completely, some even before the amendment was passed.
In New Zealand, “Australia’s little brother”, the situation is much better. While they too have an online gambling prohibition on the books, it’s quite clear that it just means that no local company can offer gambling services over the internet. As for foreign sites, including online poker rooms, they’re left alone by the local authorities and so are their players. That, coupled with the fact that gambling winnings are not taxable in the country, makes New Zealand actually a pretty great place to be for a professional poker player.
This region, especially Australia, has given poker some world class, world-famous players.
Joe Hachem’s 2005 WSOP Main Event victory led to Australia’s own poker boom, two years after the Moneymaker boom took off. Robert Campbell won the WSOP Player of the Year award in 2019 after a memorable blunder by the World Series erroneously awarded Daniel Negreanu the title first.