2/22/10 – Whilst it is true that the Australian government has not been exactly ferocious in enforced its laws against online gambling, the fact remains that the Interactive Gaming Act 2001 does make it an offence for any company in Australia or overseas to provide online casino games to any person who is ”physically present in Australia”.
The punitive fines attached to such activities are no joke, either – up to A$220 000 a day for individuals, and A$1.1 million a day for companies.
All the more surprising, therefore, that Gibraltar-based Party Poker.com has been so bold in its recruitment efforts and statements of intent on Australia.
Over the weekend the Sydney Morning Herald latched on to the story, reporting that Party Poker is "…setting up office in Australia and advertising for staff even though the business is prohibited, not taxed and subject to fines of up to $1.1 million a day."
This apparent singeing of the ‘King of Australia's' beard apparently includes "…advertising for a head of marketing in Australia, based in Sydney, to ‘leverage the brand at the forefront of the poker market in Australia and New Zealand”'.
The SMH claims that the Interactive Gaming Act 2001 has never been enforced, with the government Downunder making no attempt to restrict the activities of online poker games or online casinos.
And it notes the Productivity Commission's recent draft report into gambling, which estimated that A$790 million flowed offshore to illegal online sites in 2008, without any of it recouped in tax.
"Internet gambling is also the fastest-growing type of gaming and is estimated to have tripled its earnings from Australians between 2004 and 2008," the SMH report informs.
The commission's final report is due next week and industry players expect it will recommend the government overturn the online gaming ban.
The SMH article quotes from Party Poker's advertisement that it is a ”…growing online poker business in Europe with plans to enter the Australasian market”.
Perhaps wisely at this point, the parent Party Gaming group did not respond to a request for comment!