Australia’s Senate approved the proposed changes to the Interactive Gambling Bill 2016, which are to shut down online poker along with any other online gambling activities within the country, allowing only sports betting activities, which are referred to as game based on skills, but not on chance.
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 aims to tighten the country’s gaming law and efficiently outlaw online gambling, including online poker, roulette and blackjack. The amendment appeared on the Senate’s desk since last year and it seems that the officials finally found the right way to weed out the online gambling practices, which for years “steal” customers from the country’s domestic casinos.
The country’s officials approved the changes on Wednesday, 9th August. Under the revised bill, all online operators are required to apply for a license issued by the local gambling watchdog. It was reported that the bill is clear on the sports betting matter, liberalizing it in the country. Thus, online operators are unable to obtain such a license, as the only form of gambling allowed in the country is said to be sports betting.
It is yet to become clear the exact date when the changes are to come into effect. In fact, the country aims to prohibit online gambling activities since 2001, but it appeared to be a harder task than expected. Players managed to find loopholes in the law and continued to place their bets with online operators. The Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering in 2015 (a study of illegal online gambling) advised the country’s officials to tighten the gambling law, which at that time allowed players to play on foreign platforms.
After the announcement, the country’s officials started to consider various ways in order to improve the gaming law and remove any ambiguities, which the players could use to circumvent the law. The latest changes in the gaming legal framework states that online poker companies and operators, who offer casino-style games cannot target Australians unless licensed by the country’s regulatory body. But there is no actual way for the operators to gain the license as these gambling activities are announced to be illegal.
The changes needed to pass the two legislative bodies, including the House and the Senate in order to enter the country’s legal code. Thus, it was in the hands of the Senate to decide if they will agree on the amendments proposed by the House or introduce other changes, which would additionally slow down the process.
Facing that dilemma, the Senate decided to approve the House’s proposed amendments, which aim to prohibit Australians to use their credit cards as a payment method to fund their gambling “hobbies”. The changes in the gaming bill aim to draw back the Australians to play in the Australian-based casinos, rather than in foreign ones. The prohibitions are said to protect the players’ interest and evict unscrupulous operators from the Australian market. The changes are also expected to bring in revenue buoyancy and bridge some gaps in the budget.