For months now, Australia has been poised to make changes to their gambling laws, particularly changes to online gambling in the country. The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 was introduced last November by Alan Tudge, the Australian Minister for Human Services. The bill would revise the online gambling law, making changes to the Interactive Gambling Act which was implemented in 2001.
With the Interactive Gambling Act, legal clarity was lacking on online gambling services for the country. Online sports betting was essentially the only activity that was explicitly named as a legal activity in the country. Poker and casino games were a gray area. Offshore operators have provided such services for many years now due to the games being nether legal or illegal.
When the new legislation was introduced, it was set to block such operators from continuing to offer services. When the bill was introduced, those who offered services in the country began to consider leaving. Eventually, 888poker, Vera&John and more made the decision to pull services. Just recently, PokerStars has announced they will remove their services by mid-September but continue to offer play gaming.
The reason PokerStars decided to finally stop offering their services was due to the fact that the bill has been given Royal Assent from the Governor-General Peter Cosgrove. This was the final step for the bill to become law. Unlicensed online gaming services are now prohibited in the country. There is also no current way for operators to apply for necessary approvals to offer such gaming. The only option now is to remove services or face still penalties.
There is talk of a carve-out for poker gaming and the online poker community of Australia have been busy trying to see the decision overturned. The Senate’s Environment and Communications References Committee met earlier in August to discuss the online poker industry and arguments were presented as to why online poker should be legalized. Members of the committee are currently preparing a report that should be completed and published by September 21st.