It is fair to say that Australian governments have been on a Nanny-State Binge of late.
Firstly there were the lockout laws in Sydney. Then, there was the attack on the greyhound industry which came out of nowhere and left even the government's strongest supporters scratching their heads.
A New Year always brings hope of a better future and many went into 2017 hoping that the days of the Nanny-State were behind us and that governments might finally leave us to live our lives without interfering every step of the way. We are only a few days into the year and already, this feels like wishful thinking.
Early in the year the Federal Parliament is likely to consider the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill (2016) this Bill aims to assist problem gamblers by clarifying the rules about betting on sports over the internet as well as banning offshore providers the ability to offer services to Australian players.
Overall the intentions of this Bill are admirable and are something that most people support. However, it has an unintended consequence of destroying a hobby and pastime shared by thousands of Australians. Playing poker online.
Online poker will be banned in Australia if the Bill is passed in its current format. An amendment to the Bill needs to be made clearly stipulating the exclusion of online poker.
The decision to exclude online poker from this amendment is made even clearer by the fact this was the government’s original intention. A 2012 review by the Department of Communications and the Digital Economy went to great lengths to point out that poker is a game of both luck and skill. It also noted a significant interactive and social element which clearly differentiates it from slots machines and other forms of gambling. That government review recommended that online poker not be banned. But rather that the government look to regulate and licence it.
As online poker is a global game where you play with people from almost every country on earth the providers of these games are based overseas. When we talk about overseas we are not referring to small companies set up with the sole focus of exploiting the Australian market. We are referring to large multinational companies with billions of dollars in turnover that are publicly listed on the stock exchanges of London and Toronto.
These large, publicly listed companies, have made clear that they are open to working with the government on licensing and regulating their service for the Australian market. Not only would this allow thousands of Australians to keep a hobby that they love, it would also provide an additional source of revenue for a government that is eager to return the budget to surplus, a win-win for all involved.
The Australian Taxpayers' Alliance has started a campaign to keep online poker legal in Australia.
Please visit http://www.taxpayers.org.au/keep_online_poker_legal to contact your MP and tell them to stop banning things and Keep Online Poker in Australia!
This is a guest post by Joseph Del Duca