Australian federal parliament banned online poker Tuesday after the Senate passed an amendment bill to close “loopholes,” moving from tightening up laws around online gambling to outright removal, reported the Huffington Post Australia.
Australia has attempted to remove online gambling before, namely in the 2015 Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering, which aimed to regulate the industry more harshly; and the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act, which tried to get rid of the industry altogether with the removal of online gambling (including poker, blackjack and roulette).
This amendment, the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, would prevent players from playing at all by getting rid of the ambiguity and closing out that opportunity, Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm said.
“It’s stupid,” he told Huffington Post Australia. “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.”
Leyonhjelm said the loophole in the original 2001 law tried to stop online gambling, but there is just too active an online poker community in Australia. Now that this amendment is in place, he told the Huffington Post that people will just try to get around it with offshore accounts or virtual private networks.
The 2001 law also left a loophole for sports betting, allowing players to place in-play bets over the phone; however, agencies and bookmakers allowed phone features that sped up the betting process, according to Huffington Post Australia.
Leyonhjelm said this ban of in-play betting could push people into the black market instead of away from problem gambling, the intention of the amendment