Australian poker players are getting together to save online poker sites from being shut down due to the introduction of a recent amendment to the gaming bill.
The players have created a new body in an attempt to highlight the concerns of the poker players to the government The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 will clearly lay out what constitutes legal gaming and when passed will not permit online poker operators to operate without a legal license. This has resulted in online gaming operators such as 888poker withdrawing from the Australian market while awaiting further clarity on the issue.
Dismayed by this, several poker players have formed a body called the Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA) with the aim to achieve two objectives, educating lawmakers and raising awareness. Many suspect that the ban could be a result of unfortunate language in the amendment bill ,therefore players are trying to reach out to their local representatives to make them aware of the concerns regarding the bill’s provisions. The AOPA has also set up a petition to gather support for the issue.
In a statement Joseph Del Duca, media contact for the AOPA said
It is amazing just how many poker players have come out and supported our fight to keep online poker in Australia. The support has ranged from people of all ages from right across the country. It just shows that poker is truly a game which can be enjoyed by everyone. This is why we are fighting so hard to keep it
According to Duca much of the support has come from low-stakes home game players rather than the pros. However one top poker pro Joe Hachem, the 2005 World Series of Poker Main Event champion has expressed his strong support for the cause. Hachem pointed out that while Australia allows both online sports betting and horse racing which are gambling in the true sense; it is seeking to ban online poker
The AOPA has its roots in a thread on the popular poker forum TwoPlusTwo. Discussions amongst Australian poker players who were unhappy at the turn of events led to Duca and others deciding that they had to organize something for themselves to rally for public support. The AOPA noted that while regulation and taxation of the gaming sector was essential it doesn’t mean that Australians should be banned from playing the game altogether. Duca pointed out that the bill failed to consider that with established operators like 888poker and PokerStars out of the picture, other offshore operators would be free to prey on Australian players.