The Australian government is trying to crack down on black-market online gaming sites, with the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill being introduced last year. This legislation will make it illegal to play on unlicensed casino, poker, and sports betting sites, with fines reaching up to A$1.35 million daily for individuals.
But not everybody is a fan of this measure, including the recently formed Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA). Another person who wants to see online gamblers have more rights is Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm, who has spoken to the country’s Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, who introduced the bill.
Senator Leyonhjelm urges poker players to write Minister Tudge in an effort to get him and the government to change their minds. The senator says that if this doesn’t work, then players should “screw the government” and get themselves “a VPN and an offshore account.”
Online poker players have been using virtual private networks (VPNs) for years to avoid restrictions placed on their countries. Licensed sites like 888 and PokerStars have been popular places for VPN users from the US and other restricted countries. Of course, the downside is that if you’re caught using a VPN, sites like PokerStars may take your funds and ban you for life.
If/when Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill passes, Australian VPN users will have to worry about being fined by the government on top of everything else.
Another element to this proposed legislation is that operators also face stiff penalties for continuing to operate without licensing. This has caused sites like 888 and Partypoker to move out of the market already, while PokerStars is expected to exit soon too.
Senator Leyonhjelm and others have complained that without any licensing system or regulated gaming market in place, Australians won’t have an alternative once unlicensed sites leave. But this hasn’t slowed the momentum behind the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill.