New talks in Australia by legislators may see online poker legalised in the country this year. Depending on how successful this program is, other online gambling activities such as blackjack, roulette and pokies may also become legal within Australia.
The proposals that have been discussed at the end of May this year include plans to allow Australian online gambling websites to operate legally for the first time in over ten years.
Ever since the Interactive Gambling Act (2001) was passed by the Australian Federal Government, online gambling has been illegal in Australia, meaning that Australians wishing to gamble online have turned to illegal sites that are based overseas. The Act allows the Federal Government to fine operators, whether in australia or overseas, a maximum fine of $220, 000 for each day they’re in operation.
Besides the obvious issues of illegality for punters, this also leaves Australians who use these services vulnerable to losing their bankroll, because if an overseas site goes bankrupt, there’s no practical way for Australians to pursue reimbursement.
The Act, which is currently being reviewed here, may be loosened to allow a few firsts, such as online bets making during the progress of sports game (currently it is illegal to place a bet online during a game, but it is perfectly legal to do this over the phone or in person at a booking agency).
Another first would be Australia’s first legal poker sites in over ten years, and if that is successful in its trial run, it will open the doors to other forms of online gambling also becoming legal.
While being seen as something to ‘liberalise’ the Aussie gambling industry, the report does call for tougher restrictions on those operating outside of the terms of the Act, including giving the Australian Federal Police more powers to punish individuals who are running illegal sites aimed at Australians.
In short, the report aims to free up some of the restrictive parts of the Act, while making it legally easier to enforce the Act on those online gambling sites acting in ways that are hurting the legal Australian gambling industry. This should work well to protect the legal industry, as well as those Australians who gamble.