Australia effectively lost online poker with their own Black Tuesday when the Australian Senate approved the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016. The bill outlaws all internet gambling, poker and in-game sports betting, but does authorize limited sports betting.
The Bill was introduced last November by Alan Tudge, Minister for Human Services in the federal government, which prompted some operators to pull out of the country before it became law. 888Poker blocked Australian plays in January while PokerStars and partypoker stated they would restrict players should the ban become active.
Australian Senator David Leyonhjelm, a leader in opposition to the bill was quoted by The Huffington Post Australia saying the bill “is stupid.” And, “if you want to play poker, there are lots of opprtuniites 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.”
“It will promote the black market,” Leyonhjelm continued. “There are ways to circumvent these prohibition approaches. People will gamble using foreign providers by various means. They will be in the hands of sometimes shady providers, and it they get ripped off, they will have no recourse.”
Leyonhjelm has clearly looked at what happened to the American online poker market since Black Friday. American players lost the (mostly) reputable online operators and either had to play on grey-market sites or relocate internationally.
When the Bill was introduced last year the Australian Online Poker Alliance was formed. The group attempted an amendment to the Bill by Leyonhjelm to carve out online poker but it failed to pass.
The AOPA released an official statement that said in part, “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.”
“We will take this challenge head on. The Australian Online Poker Community will gladly accept this opportunity to inform the Australian Government about our right to play and the overall benefits safe, regulated online poker has for a free society operating in the 21st century.”