Posted 1/7/11 : Could poker.com.au have sold for more than US$100 000?
 
The Australian domain market reported this week that Poker.com.au was sold for US$100 000 last week, but there has been speculation that with less restrictive Australian laws on advertising in place, the price could have been better.
 
Netfleet domain auction house chief David Lye said that the decade-old laws restricting online gambling services advertising in Australia may have driven down the selling price.
 
He told the Australian publication Smart Company that a Canadian equivalent, Poker.ca, sold for $400 000 in 2009. "Now, Canada has one-and-a-half times the population of Australia and that site commanded a price proportionately much, much higher," he said.
 
"One of the aspects involved in all of this is the legalization, and the legalization specifically prohibits the advertising of online interactive gambling. In theory, you cannot have an Australian website advertising these interactive gaming services, and the fines are large."
 
In Australia, it is illegal for any online gambling site to offer services to Australians located in the country – but the law does not make it a criminal act for Australians to engage in these services, a situation which sees many Aussies gambling on offshore sites. This led to the Productivity Commission recommending the regulation rather than prohibition of online gambling, a suggestion which the federal government has rejected.
 
Communications senator Stephen Conroy commented at the time: "The Australian Government does not agree with the Productivity Commission recommendation that the Australian Government amend the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 to allow for a liberalisation of online gambling, starting with allowing the provision of online poker games to Australians. The existing rules will continue to apply."
 
Lye told Smart Company that if interactive gambling advertising were allowed in Australia, "you might see prices that were worth 10 times the amount… the legalization has obviously deflated the price".
 
Poker.com.au snapped up by 888.com, which employs Aussie cricket celeb Shane Warne as its ambassador; so far, the company hasn't used Poker.com.au for any new service but the website claims that "a seriously exciting new poker revolution" is "coming soon".
 
"The theory of relaxing these laws is that you're allowing access to poker rooms, you're getting tax revenue which could be in the realms of hundreds of millions per year, and you can regulate the industry," Lye claims. "This is one of the most lucrative areas on the internet… but the legalization means the price is lower than it would have been overseas."