Het lijkt erop dat het de Australische pokerspelers niet is gelukt om ervoor te zorgen dat er legaal online poker zal worden aangeboden in het land. Het Australische Senaat heeft deze week ingestemd met de Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, waardoor er geen gereguleerd aanbod zal zijn van online poker. "The bill was initially meant to close off loopholes that allowed in play sports betting but also has the side effect of making it impossible for regulated online poker to be offered."
Het aannemen van de nieuwe wet komt kort na een laatste 'push' van online pokerspelers en advocaten, geleid door de Australian Online Poker Alliance en Australian Sen. David Leyonhjelm.
After the bill's initial movement late in 2016, things looked grim for online poker Down Under. However, the AOPA formed in response to the bill and Leyonhjelm took up the cause, initiating an inquiry to highlight what he and others saw as a foolish and hypocritical law.
De pokerspelers reageerden en lieten zich van hun beste kant zien om ervoor te zorgen dat het voorkomen zou kunnen worden. "The Australian poker community should be very proud of how they have held themselves through the campaign," vertelt hij. "We have rallied together as a strong community. The inquiry has received so many submissions from people who want to save our game that they haven't been able to keep up with the work load."
Ze zorgden ook voor enkele experts die lieten zien dat regulering beter zou zijn dan verbieden. Dr. Sally Gainsbury zei daarover: "A lot of people will continue to play, and they will be forced to use sites that potentially have fewer consumer protection mechanisms and be exposed to risks related to developing gambling problems, as well as potentially being cheated or losing their funds."
Online pokerspeler Oliver Gill liet zich bij de bespreking ook horen: "Prohibition has been tried in other countries with disastrous results, including the creation of black markets, with millions of dollars being stolen from players by illegal online poker operators like Lock Poker with no recourse for players who have been cheated or stolen from," he said. "I do not believe it's in any party's best interest to subject Australian online poker players to the reality of black markets, if the online poker industry is banned in Australia."
De toekomst ziet er niet rooskleurig uit voor de online pokerspelers uit Australië, maar Joseph Del Duca van het AOPA liet weten dat ze doorgaan met het gevecht. "Whilst it was unfortunate that the government did not wait for the Senate Inquiry findings to come through, we urge Australian poker players to not give up hope. Our game is not dead and we will continue to campaign for safe, legal online poker when the Senate Inquiry is handed down."
Hij sloot af met de woorden: "Our call for a safe, regulated online poker market in Australia is still the only option that provides freedom for players, revenue for the government and protection for those in need."