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Australia – Australia’s Senate bans online poker and in-play sports betting

By - 22 March 2017

Australia’s Senate has banned online poker and in-play sports betting.

In doing so, the country’s Senate rejected a proposal by a majority of 46-6 that would prevent online poker from being banned under the new Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill.

The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 has been under consideration in the Senate since late last year. The legislation states that online poker companies can’t offer games to Australians unless licensed and with no licensing available they have effectively been banned.

Online operators saw the move coming. Vera&John was the first to leave Australia back in December followed by 888Poker in January.

Amaya’s Vice President of Corporate Communications Eric Hollreiser said back then: “Amaya continuously monitors the regulatory environments of the countries in which it operates, and where a regulatory model exists always seek to comply with it. While Amaya currently offers poker to Australian customers through PokerStars under its Isle of Man global gaming license, if proposed legislation passes into law players located in Australia would likely be blocked from playing on our sites.”

Sports betting sites had been hurdling laws about in-play betting by using functionalities such as click-to-call and cash-out mechanisms. As it made two appointments to its Australian management team last month, Ladbrokes Chief Executive, Jim Mullen said: “The Australian business continues to go from strength to strength and has delivered impressive growth since we brought it in 2013.”

He added that it was important to preserve the ‘entrepreneurial spirit within the team, keep the momentum in the business and keep the brand as fresh and as customer focused as it always has been.’
Not all politicians have agreed with the amendments. Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm slammed it as ‘nanny state legislation, based on the assumption that prohibition works’.

David Ean Leyonhjelm, a Senator for New South Wales, said he wants poker players to break the law and use virtual private networks to try to continue playing online. He had wanted politicians to exclude poker from the legislation.

He questioned why legislation was merely stopping poker online when it was widely available at casinos and bricks and mortar tournaments.

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