Australian Government Bans Online Poker, Operator Exodus Expected

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Online poker players and advocates in Australia are probably flying the flag at half-mast after their federal government moved to ban online poker.

Australian online poker players got bad news – the worst news, actually – on Tuesday. The Interactive Gambling Amendment 2016 passed through the Australian Senate on Tuesday, essentially banning online poker and in-play sports betting.

This likely means most online poker operators will remove themselves from the Australian market in the days and weeks. 888poker left the market in late 2016 in anticipation of the bill becoming law and PokerStars has previously indicated they would leave.

“It’s stupid. If you want to play poker, there are lots of opportunities in Australia, at casinos and tournaments. It’s not as if there isn’t a great deal of poker playing already, but they’re just stopping it online. The whole world is online now,” Australian Senator David Leyonhjelm told the Huffington Post.

Leyonhjelm had attempted to amend the bill with a carveout for online poker but was unsuccessful.

The bill, which allows for the government to fine operators violating it upwards of AU$6.5 million, was the result of a 2015 report titled “Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering”. That report asked for recommendations on the best ways under Australian law to limit the activities of illegal offshore gaming operators.

The Interactive Gambling Amendment 2016 has similarities to the 2006 passing of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act in the United States. Following the passing of that bill most major publicly traded online gaming companies abandoned the American market.

Alan Tudge, Human Services Minister, was anxious to close any loopholes that that the previously passed Interactive Gambling Act 2001 had that allowed licensed operators in Australia to accept in-play bets on sporting events over the internet.

Jackie Glazer, one of many high profile Australian poker players and a partpoker ambassador expressed a sentiment that most Australian poker players are feeling today via Twitter.

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