AUSSIE POKER PLAYERS UNNERVED BY PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO ONLINE GAMING LEGISLATION (Update)

Fear exodus of reputable operators from the market.

The bill seeking amendments to Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001, which would see the implementation of stricter regulatory conditions on offshore operators, is expected to be voted on during Parliament’s next session and it has local poker players concerned, various Australian media outlets are reporting today (Tuesday).

In an interview with News.com.au, Joseph Del Duca, a Sydney investment banker who plays online poker recreationally, believes changes in the wording of the proposal, which is designed to protect problem gamblers and clear up the ambiguity surrounding live in-game betting regulations, are too broad and will ultimately force the big online operators to exit the market, such as the recent departure of 888Poker.

"The intent of the bill is admirable. It's not the intent of the bill to ban online poker … it's just an unfortunate by product of the wording of it," Del Duca told news.com.au.

Del Duca has founded the Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA) in a bid to preserve skill-based, player-to-player poker games by lobbying the Government to consider changes in the wording of the bill.

"These large [online poker] companies aren't set up offshore to try and flout Australian laws, they're large multinational companies that are publicly listed on stock exchanges … and offer services worldwide to players from every country.

“These are the companies we want to be dealing with because they're publicly listed, they care about their image.

“These companies will pull out of the market if this law comes through as it is, and that will only leave companies that don't particularly care about their image – more of your black market operators – which the bill is trying to protect us from."

The bill, spear headed by the Communication and Arts portfolio’s Human Services Minister Alan Tudge, will effectively give the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) broad power to levy civil penalties, injunctions, warnings and infringement notices against offshore online gambling operators.

"The government reviews have suggested that online poker be looked at as a separate entity and that it be licensed and regulated. We're just calling on the government to do that, instead of just putting through this ban which is going to get rid of the freedom of thousands of Australians who like to come home from work occasionally and play a hobby on their computer,” Del Duca said in the interview.