Closing Loopholes in the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act
Today, the Australian Senate voted to approve the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016. This legislation will close loopholes in previous gambling regulations thus banning all internet gambling activity — online poker, online casinos and in-play betting — not specifically authorised by law.
This amendment bill was introduced in response to recommendations made in Barry O’Farrell’s “Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering”.
According to the Australian government’s Department of Social Security website, the government wants “protect Australians from these illegal offshore wagering operators which don’t provide the legal and consumer protections Australian licensed sites do.”
A number of operators had previously devised some inventive work-arounds including “click-to-call” offers that required a device’s microphone to be left on — thus arguably complying with the “over the phone” stipulation in the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act.
Reluctant to operate in “grey zones”, a number of international operators, including 888 and Vera & John, have recently pulled out of Australia. Pockerstars has previously indicated that it would stop Australian operations if the Amendment bill passed.
Liberal Democrats senator David Leyonhjelm made his feelings on the subject clear in an interview with The Huffington Post Australia:
“It’s stupid,” he said. “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.”