For weeks, the Environment and Communications References Committee has been accepting submissions in regards to the fate of online poker in Australia. The government is poised to outlaw Australia online poker. Thanks to the efforts of advocacy groups, the Committee will review the situation before a final decision is made.
The deadline to submit reasons why Australia online poker should not be prohibited has passed. The extirpation date for submissions was July 21, 2017. According to representatives of the Australia Online Poker Alliance (AOPA), it’s estimated that 50-200 submissions were filed.
Defending Online Poker in Australia
While a pile of paperwork from Australia online poker players protesting the prohibition of their favorite pastime is good for the cause, there are certain submissions that will weigh heavier on the minds of ECR Committee members than others. In particular is the testimony of one Dr. Sally Gainsbury.
Dr. Gainsbury is the Senior Lecturer at the University of Sydney, and specializes in matters of gambling and gambling addiction. Her opinion has been sought by governments and regulatory bodies all over the world.
Fortunately, for fans of online poker in Australia, Dr. Gainsubry is on their side. She has submitted in-depth research indicating that, compared to other land-based and online gambling activities, online poker is associated with a very low rate of harm.
Key Points for Australia Online Poker
The Committee will have several key elements to consider based on the supportive submission. Among them, they will have to decide whether Australian poker players are full grown adults with the right to spend their money when and how as they please.
The eligibility of online poker operators to access the Australian market is another big issue. Advocates argue that it should be a privilege, granted only to sites licenced—and paying for that licence—in Australia. Such a regime would supply a new and much needed revenue stream for the government.
Also supporting the cause is a wealth of research from numerous countries, including the UK—the most successfully regulated iGaming market in the world—that attests to the low rate of problem gambling associated with online poker. Add to that the monumentally profound (and legally supported) argument that poker is a game of skill, not chance, played in a peer-to-peer setting, as opposed to players competing against ‘the house’.
Last but far-from-least, even politicians have acquiesced to the fact that online poker prohibition simply does not work. Instead of protecting players, as regulation does, it opens a can of very dark and potentially mendacious worms. Online poker will still exist, and Australians will still play, but they’ll be forced to do so with shady offshore operators.
ECR to Report Finding in September
The ECR Committee has a lot to think about in the coming weeks. While their recommendation is not guaranteed to save Australia online poker, or put the final nail in its coffin, it will surely have a great influence on the eventual outcome.
They will have to report back to the Australian government in September with a number of opinions, including:
- Should the people have legal access to online poker in Australia?
- Does online poker pose a significant threat in terms of problem gambling?
- Are there any significant benefits to the regulation of online poker?
- Is the government’s approach to prohibiting online poker in Australia a reasonable and proportionate response to the harms and/or benefits determined by the Committee?
Mark the date, September 14, 2017, on your calendar. That’s the day the Committee’s report is due on the desk of legislators.