Australia Parliament passes amendment bill shutting down online poker & in-play services

Having today passed the ‘Gambling Amendment Bill 2016’, Australia’s federal parliament has closed a number of regulatory loopholes thus outlawing online poker and in-play sports betting.

Since November 2016, the Australian Senate has been reviewing the propositions of the Amendment Bill, which sought to ‘bridge the loopholes found in the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001’.

The restructuring of Australia’s gambling laws has split political stakeholders, with a number of conservative MPs backing tougher stances and restrictions on online gambling, amid the growth of remote betting operators targeting Australian consumers.

Nevertheless, industry stakeholders have urged the Australian government to bring clarity to its market by modernising the Gambling Act developing new regulations that would be in-tune with digital dynamics and modern consumer trends.

In preparation for the introduction of Amendment Bill provisions, operators 888poker and Vera&John have shut down their market operations. Leading online poker room PokerStars will likely leave the market, as the operator does not want to operate in ‘black or grey market’ territories.

With regards to sports betting, it remains to be seen whether international operators such as William Hill and Ladbrokes Australia will close their in-play betting functionalities such as click-to-call and cash-out mechanisms.

In October 2015, William Hill Australia won its federal court battle against the Australian Communications & Media Authority, to keep its click-to-call services after the Federal police declared that it would not investigate the operator for breaching 2001 Gambling Act policy.

Today’s decision by Parliament has been criticized by industry stakeholders and supporting MPs. Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm stated that the amendments were simply ‘nanny state legislation, based on the assumption that prohibition works’.

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