Scientific Game

Government to consider online poker licenses as PokerStars officially exits Australia

Thursday, 14 September 2017 04:57
Share
Visit us

By Ben Blaschke

Online poker giant PokerStars this week officially withdrew its real money services from Australia, but the hiatus might not last long with the federal government considering a new feasibility study into issuing licenses to selected online poker operators.

PokerStars was forced to pull the pin on Monday as the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill, which closes loopholes in the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 and strengthens the government’s ability to prosecute illegal online operators, came into effect.

However, it seems that months of lobbying by the Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA) to legalize and regulate online poker in Australia might pay off with the government reportedly advising that it is “favorably disposed” to reforms that would exempt online poker players from illegal offshore wagering laws.

Senator David Leyonhjelm, a strong supporter of the AOPA, released a statement this week revealing that Communications Minister Mitch Fifield had instructed his department to undertake some preliminary work on a feasibility study.

“While any reforms will be contingent on Minister Fifield obtaining party room approval, he has indicated he has the support of Human Services Minister Alan Tudge, who led the government’s implementation of recommendations made in the Illegal Offshore Wagering Review,” the statement said.

Senator Leyonhjelm added, “I believe we have won the ‘in-principle’ battle. The question now will be how to make it happen in practice.

“Gambling is largely a matter for the states, while communications and taxation are Commonwealth matters. I’m not sure ACMA is an appropriate regulatory agency and would like to see the government consider something similar to the UK Gambling Commission, which appears to have a good understanding of the risks and benefits associated with online gambling.

“I will maintain close contact with Minister Fifield and his department to ensure this matter maintains momentum. Australian online poker players deserve to have a safe, regulated environment in which to enjoy their pastime and not be forced into using offshore sites.”

 AOPA founder Joseph Del Duca said that news of the possible feasibility study was welcome news.

“The AOPA is extremely pleased that the Minister is looking into the feasibility of a safe, regulated online poker market in Australia,” Mr Del Duca told IAG.

“The poker community should be very proud of getting things to this point. As a community all we ever wanted was to be heard. We saw hundreds of ordinary Australians make submissions to the online poker inquiry and we are pleased that the government is listening to these players and taking this matter seriously.

“The AOPA wants to ensure the government gets the balance right between individual freedom, consumer protections and government revenue right. I personally urge Minister Fifield to reach out to myself and the AOPA as a whole. We are more than willing to work with the government on this.”

In the meantime, however, online poker has become little more than a memory for Australians with PokerStars emailing account holders late Monday to bid farewell.

“As a result of the Australian parliament passing the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill (2016) last month, the time has sadly come to halt all real money poker play at our tables for you and all other players in Australia,” the email read.

“The Bill will become law on Wednesday, 13 September. We will halt our real money services in Australia at 15:00 BST on Monday, 11 September.

“As we've said before, we respect the Australian Government's decision and appreciate their motivations. Keeping the online world secure and players safe is a mission that we share wholeheartedly.

“We would like to thank the Australian Online Poker Alliance, which engaged in lobbying for the safe and sensible regulation of online poker for Australian players throughout.

“We are extremely proud that over the last couple of decades we could play a part in helping the Australian poker community grow, but that wouldn’t have happened without you, the players. We want to take this opportunity to thank you for your loyal support to the game and for choosing to play with us at PokerStars.”

 

 

 

What's new

Chris Rowe named to replace Vincent Kelly as Aristocrat’s Managing Director Asia-Pacific

Chris Rowe named to replace Vincent Kelly as Aristocrat’s Managing Director Asia-Pacific By Ben Blaschke Chris Rowe has been named Aristocrat’s new Managing Director Asia-Pacific, taking over the key role from predecessor Vincent Kelly. Rowe, who first joined Aristocrat in 2004, moves into the region’s top job from his previous role as Sales & Business Development Director for... Tuesday, 26 September 2017 07:11

Macau travel agency receipts rise slightly in 2016

Macau travel agency receipts rise slightly in 2016 Receipts from travel agencies grew slightly by 0.5% to MOP$6.53 billion in 2016 on the back of a similar increase in the number of agencies operating – up by six to 256 – according to the Statistics and Census Service (DSEC). Among the various items of receipts, those generated from package tou... Tuesday, 26 September 2017 05:31
Genting Hong Kong holds charity voyage on Dream Cruises Genting Hong Kong co-organized the 2nd Charity Voyage on board Genting Dream, the flagship of Dream Cruises, Asia’s Luxury Cruise Line, with the Tung Wah Group of Hospitals’ (TWGHs). From 22 to 24 September, more than 100 patrons and 19 students together with their parents travelled on the luxu... Tuesday, 26 September 2017 05:14

CANVAS celebrates official debut in Macau with charity event

CANVAS celebrates official debut in Macau with charity event In order to promote the concept of organic skin care, CANVAS made its official debut in Macau at JA Avenue on Monday. The opening ceremony, attended by celebrities and stylists from Macau, was held at the Square outside the main entrance of JA Avenue with Ms Angela Leong, Managing Director and Chie... Tuesday, 26 September 2017 05:09

Current Issue

All you need to know about Macau’s recovery

All you need to know about Macau’s recovery Now in its second year, the global casino capital’s comeback speeds ahead along unexpected tracks. By Muhammad Cohen | Editor at large   Macau’s recovery keeps producing surprising numbers and serious questions. Gaming revenue powered ahead 19% though the first seven months of 2017, with bot... Monday, 28 August 2017 18:34

Beneath the skin

Beneath the skin While leading game developers look to crackdown on the practice of skins betting within the eSports community, there are many who believe it should be a legalized and regulated industry in its own right. By Ben Blaschke   Skins betting has become somewhat of a dirty word in the world of eSports,... Monday, 28 August 2017 18:27

Global Ambition

Global Ambition Marina Bay Sands CEO and President and Las Vegas Sands Managing Director for Global Development George Tanasijevich discusses the company’s ongoing quest for global expansion in an exclusive interview with Inside Asian Gaming. By Muhammad Cohen | Editor at large   At the Japan Gaming Congress ... Monday, 28 August 2017 18:19

Leprosy, Ebola and problem gambling

Leprosy, Ebola and problem gambling Casino marketing expert Steve Karoul explains why problem gambling is such a difficult fix and why we must never stop trying. By Steve Karoul   What do they all have in common? Probably not too much, but how else do you focus one’s attention on such horrible diseases? One could argue that lepr... Monday, 28 August 2017 18:15