The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 (IGAB) was expected to be passed by the government at any given moment, effectively banning Australia online poker. Now, thanks to a procedural mishap, players won’t be cut off from the activity until June 2017, at the very earliest.
The IGAB was supposed to be given priority status, providing the urgency necessary to push it into law the moment it received a positive vote in Parliament. Oops! They forgot to stamp the priority notice on it, so instead, the bill has been mandatorily shelved until the new legislative session, which won’t reconvene until May 9.
Even if the bill were to be ratified and approved by the House at break-neck speed, it couldn’t possibly go into effect before the middle of June. So for the next two months, at least, Australia online poker is safe.
Postponing The Inevitable?
If – or more likely, when – the bill finally passes, online poker will no longer be legal in Australia. It’s not actually legal now, but it’s not illegal either, which has facilitated the region’s growth of major operators like 888, PokerStars and William Hill.
There aren’t many players who believe the government will overturn its opinion that the IGAB, in its current form, is a necessary piece of legislation. False hope isn’t on their agenda. However, they’re still working to petition the government to – at the least – amend the bill to carve out a legal position for Australia online poker.
The original petition, by the ambiguous Australian Poker Community, failed to impress their position on political officials. It didn’t help that the petition’s goal was to achieve 2,500 signatures, and fell short by exactly 100.
Since then, a new initiative was started by the ‘Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance‘ in an effort to “Keep Online Poker Legal”. This version asks supporters to click a few buttons on their desktop or mobile device to email a pre-written letter to their local representative.
That letter asks officials not to support the current IGAB, as it “shall mistakenly hurt Australians involved in the sport of competitive poker, contrary to the recommendations of the inquiry into this matter.”
More Operators Flee Australian Market
In the wake of this pending legislation, many Australia online poker operators have expressed their need to exit the nation’s market. Some of them have already bowed out, including 888 Poker, William Hill and Vera&John.
Just this week, 32Red announced it would no longer accept Australian players either. That company withdrew its services on Monday, April 3.
As of right now, PokerStars is the only major online poker operation that continues to accept Aussies. That won’t last long, though PokerStars’ parent company, Amaya Gaming, already confirmed its intention to exit the Australia online poker market the moment the IGAB goes into effect.
PokerStars reasserted that position in a recent email to its Australian customers:
“The bill will effectively ban all online gambling sites that are not locally licensed under Australian State or Territory law. It’s with great sadness that we have to say that if this bill is passed it means we will have to halt real money poker play for you and all other Australian players.”