- »Why Should Australia Legalize Online Poker?
Why Should Australia Legalize Online Poker?
The poker community is thriving in Australia. This has been the case for decades. And poker will continue to be popular with Aussies for the foreseeable future.
Poker Boom and Gloom
At one time, however, Australia experienced a poker boom. It coincided with the global poker boom, building on the 2003 World Series of Poker Main Event win of Chris Moneymaker. But when Australian Joe Hachem won the 2005 WSOP Main Event, the Australian poker market grew in popularity as in few other places around the world.
That whirlwind of poker greatness began to unwind over the past few years, however.
The closure of the United States market in April 2011 was one factor, as it reduced the size of the global player pools on sites like PokerStars, PartyPoker, and 888poker. Some other countries, mainly in Europe, followed suit in the subsequent years.
But it wasn’t until the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 that the Australian market suffered. Its passage in 2017 prompted most major online poker operators to withdraw from the market and ban Aussie players.
Can Small Efforts Garner Support?
Live poker remains very popular in Australia, as shown by big numbers this year at the 2020 Aussie Millions in Melbourne. But those who want online poker are forced to find their way to offshore sites.
There have been some efforts in the past two or three years to amend the current gambling laws to declare poker a game of skill and exempt it from current prohibitions. None of those have found enough support to move forward.
The most hopeful sign for poker fans is the reemergence of Joseph Del Luca, a public relations expert who has long worked to legalize online poker in Australia. He and a group of others once associated with the Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA) are beginning another push to amend the Interactive Gambling Amendment (IGA). They want a carveout for poker.
Time will tell if they will find success. In the meantime, it is important to look at the top reasons that online poker should be legal in Australia.
Game of Skill
Poker has been proven over and over to be a game of skill. It sets itself apart from other casino games in that there is no house edge and it is solely a player-to-player game. Studies and analyses have shown – even in various courts around the world – that poker contains a skill component not found in other casino games. It is the reason that skilled poker players continue to win over the long run.
If Australia ever wonders about new sources of revenue, lawmakers should look to online poker operators. They have shown time and again that they will pay taxes and fees to obtain licenses from countries around the world in order to offer their online poker games to players within those borders.
If Australia chose to legalize online poker and offer licenses, there are a number of sites that would immediately apply and pay fees to do so. They would likely agree to most tax rates and contribute significantly to the nation’s revenue.
A regulatory body that issues licenses to online poker sites would have the power to regulate the industry. It could require certain contributions to organizations that work to prevent gambling harm and ensure that operators abide by all of the rules established by the government of Australia.
This has worked out well for countries like France, Italy, Spain, and even various parts of the United States like New Jersey.
While many offshore online casinos and poker sites are honest businesses, there are some that can trick players or not protect their funds for later withdrawals. Oversight by the Australian regulator can prevent this. By establishing guidelines and auditing the companies for compliance, players can rest assured that they are protected by a governmental body.
This doesn’t even require the Australian-facing poker sites to close the market to outside players. The UK market is an ideal example of how to regulate sites while allowing them to connect to player pools in other parts of the world.
When countries regulate online poker, they often partner with land-based casinos. This is the case in states in America. This has been shown to benefit the land-based casinos, as the online sites bring players to the casinos, where they may play other games and use the restaurants and other facilities.
With poker, land-based casinos also benefit by hosting tournaments, which again bring players from the online realm to the live poker rooms.
If Australia structures the market to partner online poker with land-based casinos, there are opportunities for cross-promotions and growth.