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Australian Senate Passes Restrictive Online Gambling Bill
- August 9, 2017 By Oliver Young -
Australia is the country with highest number of slot machines per capita and a many Australians enjoy playing slot games, or pokies as they call them. However, the country’s attitude towards online gambling is a bit more restrictive. In the past few years Australian lawmakers have passed several bills and amendments that restrict the citizens’ access to real money gambling.
This spring, the government announced that it intends to prohibit gambling ads and few months later a bill that prevents online betting and gambling operators from offering credit lines to their customers. Many Australians gamble online, but there are many operators which are not licenced by any Australian governmental agency and yet offer online gambling to Australians.
Unlicensed Operators Can’t Target Australians
In November last year Australian lawmakers voted in favour of the amendment of the Interactive Gambling Law with the intention of banning online poker and casino operators from the country. That bill was now approved.
The Senate’s committee on Environment and Communications held a hearing on online poker only a week before the billed passed through the Upper House. During the hearing several Australian poker players, as well as other stakeholders testified, making an argument why poker should be excluded from the ban.
The bill was proposed by the Alan Tudge, Australia’s Human Services Minister. The main point of the law is to make it illegal for unlicensed offshore operators to target Australians. The problem is that the current laws don’t include provisions which specify the procedure and terms under which operators can legally apply for a licenced and be granted permission to operate in Australia.
Despite the fact that the bill passed through the Upper House, experts don’t believe that the government will block the sites of unlicensed operators, at least for now, even though there have been reports that the possibility has been considered. Some countries have tried that approach, but it hasn’t proved to be very effective and successful.
Senator Leyonhjelm Thinks Poker is a Game of Chance
Many felt that the Senate should wait at least until September, when the report from a research into online poker that was conducted this summer is supposed to be published. The reports should settle once and for all whether online poker should be treated as a game of skill or a game of chance. The findings will have an impact on the issue whether online poker operators should be banned or not.
Senator David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democratic Party is one of the fiercest proponents of the full legalisation of online poker and he has been trying to convince his colleagues that online poker shouldn’t be banned for quite a while now. According to Leyonhjelm poker is a game that falls into a different category, as players need to possess certain skills in order to be successful. He also feels that the best solution for the country is a regulated online gambling market, not an umbrella ban.
Those who are in favour of the bill feel that it will protect the citizens, especially the most vulnerable ones, from uncontrolled gambling. Even though the bill is still to be implemented, we can expect many gambling operators to leave the market in the immediate future.