The Australian Senate has supported their House of Representatives today by passing amended legislation that completely bans online poker, online casino games and in-play sports wagers.
Following publication of the government’s report on Illegal Offshore Wagering, Minister Alan Tudge proposed a 2016 amendment to the bill which completely closes any loopholes which the previous legislation hadn’t addressed.
The latest version amends Australia’s existing laws on online gambling in order to outlaw the provision and promotion of all unlicensed services to local players.
The changes mean that all online casino and poker games are now illegal and international bookmakers are now required to obtain a local license in order to continue offering their services to Australia-based punters.
Online Casino Backlash from Opposition
The ban has been criticized by many in Canberra who believe the legislation will push online gamblers to illegally circumvent the ban using VPN’s and other technology, thereby leaving them vulnerable to rogue operators.
Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm, a vocal detractor of the Bill, believes although there are plenty of opportunities to play poker and casino in bricks ‘n mortar establishments in Australia, people still want to play casino games online.
“The whole world is online now. There is quite an active online poker community in Australia. I don’t think it will succeed for those really determined. If you have a [virtual private network] or offshore account, you will still play. It’s a stupid situation to be in.”
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 has been on the cards for some time and has seen major operators like 888Poker.com, Vera&John and have already wound down their Australian operations in response to the bill.
“It will promote the black market,” Leyonhjelm told The Huffington Post Australia. “There are ways to circumvent these prohibition approaches. People will gamble using foreign providers by various means. They’ll be in the hands of shady providers and if they get ripped off they will have no recourse.”