The Australian parliament has officially passed a new bill that will see online poker and in-play sport betting banned.
Despite a late push from Australia’s poker community, the Senate this week passed the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 which closed a number of loopholes that had previously allowed illegal offshore operators to offer their services to Australian citizens. The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 will now see illegal operators subject to huge fines should they continue to break the law.
Nevertheless, the result has been met with dismay by proponents of online poker, which was never the primary target of the amendment.
Senator David Leyonhjelm, who had lobbied to have online poker regulated rather than banned, described the situation as “stupid.”
“The original 2001 law was meant to stop online gambling of many kinds, but it didn’t, there was a loophole,” he told The Huffington Post Australia. “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.
“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.”