It may have escaped the attention of players outside of Australia, but online gamblers down under will almost certainly have heard about the law changes which are coming into place in regards to online gaming, particularly sports betting and poker. The new Australian casino gambling bill has been drafted in a bid to tighten the restrictions on those operators which offer offshore live betting and poker games services to Australian players.
Revision of the law
Back in November, the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 was introduced as a revision of the already existing Australian gambling laws. Prior to the launch of the bill, it was revealed that numerous offshore live betting sites were simulating phone calls in a bit to get around already existing gambling laws which allow phone or live betting in bookies, but not online.
The Australian gambling bill passed its introduction and first reading back in November, and on February 8 underwent second and third readings. The senate got a look at the new bill on February 9. It has not been made into law, but it is expected to pass without too much hindrance.
What will the law change?
Under the terms mentioned in the new bill, illegal gambling services will be issued warnings by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), as well as infringement notices, penalties and injunctions if they break Australian gambling laws. ACMA may also be able to prohibit gambling services to those operators, although it is not yet clear just how well they will be able to punish such websites.
The law is likely to most affect online sports betting, and poker games, and not casinos. In-play betting would become legal online (as opposed to the current format of phone, or betting offices). The report would not permit micro-betting, though, and would try and prohibit that in betting offices as well as online.
As for poker, Aussie players can currently play offshore poker games, but not those based in Australia. The law would trial licenses for Australian poker sites, and try to move players away from offshore online poker gaming.
The future of offshore casinos in regards to Australian players
There doesn’t appear to be too much in the way of casinos in the new bill. Even if the new bill becomes law, there may be precious little that Australian authorities can do to stop Australian players gambling at offshore casino sites. Offshore casinos usually operate under license from Curacao, and other far-flung regions of the globe. Australian gambling laws prohibit players from playing games at Australian casinos but do little to stop them playing at offshore casinos. There are many casino review sites where you can find out the licensing authorities for each casino and you will generally also find the licensing authority displayed in the footer of every online casino.
If the law was amended to include casinos, it may run into difficulties. A similar model was introduced in the United States in 2006, and although many of the mainstream casino enterprises did pack up shop and locate elsewhere, a number of offshore casinos spring up aiming to satisfy the US gambling crowd and fill a niche. Despite laws preventing banks from authorising transactions to offshore casinos, US players still found a way to top up their balances and receive their winnings from such casinos. It is highly likely that despite the new Australian gambling bill, the same situation will arise down under. For now, the casinos are safe.