The future of online poker in Australia is very much in doubt after a last-minute effort to exclude the game from an outright online gambling ban failed yesterday.
The Australian government already approved its Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 that would ban all forms of unregulated online gambling but poker proponents were hoping the skill game might get a pass.
Instead Senator David Leyonhjelm’s pro poker proposal was rejected by members of the ruling Liberal-National coalition by a vote of 46-6.
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 will now go to the House of Representatives where it is expected to be made into law. At that point all forms of online gambling would be made illegal.
888poker Already Gone, PokerStars to Leave
The bill is not a surprise to anyone that’s been following the market closely as 888poker left months ago.
PokerStars has already stated it will leave Australia if anti-online gambling legislation is approved. One expects other sites such as partypoker will follow.
If Australian players wish to keep playing they will likely be forced to play on shadier, unregulated online poker sites or relocate.
It’s even stranger considering a contingent of US players moved to Australia to play online poker after Black Friday in 2011.
It’s not exactly a cheery outlook for online poker in Australia and there are some parallels to the USA.
In 2006 the USA passed UIGEA and it’s taken until relatively recently for individual states like Nevada and New Jersey to bring the game back and its been a very slow process.
It’s possible that Australia could pass legislation to individually legalize online poker in the future but at this point that appears unlikely.
Australia possesses one of the biggest online gambling markets in the world with a market estimated at around $20 billion.