Sometime over the next few months, Australia will officially pass a new law that will effectively restrict online gambling in the country. At this time, many online poker rooms that are based in Europe — and have been serving the Australian market — will likely leave. This already includes brands such as 888 and even PokerStars once the ban passes.
So what is an Australia online poker player to do? Fortunately, there appears as though there will be some options for Australia players. Yes, they won’t necessarily have the safeguards that many existing European online poker rooms. But Australian poker players will also likely to have access to a handful of online poker rooms that have been reliably serving U.S. players (who are in a similar situation to Australians) for the better part of a decade or more.
It’s not ideal, but it may be Australian’s only way to play online poker until poker-friendly laws are passed.
What Has Happened So Far?
Online poker in Australia has always been in somewhat of a grey zone. In fact, some online poker rooms have never served the Australian market. In 2001, Australia attempted to prohibit online poker and other forms of gambling but left loopholes.
By 2016, efforts to close the loopholes gained momentum after the Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering in 2015 recommended that federal laws be tightened up.
The Australian Senate Passed the amendments in March with little doubt the House of Representatives will do the same in a few months.
Leading up to the amendment’s passage, a handful of online poker rooms left the market, including 888poker and 32red. PokerStars will also leave Australia once the amendment officially becomes law. This is expected to happen sometime this summer. Any remaining European-based and publicly traded companies will very likely leave the Australian market.
Here is a interview with Australian Senator David Leyonhjelm discussing the new law in March:
Where to Play Australian Online Poker?
With the Australian online poker ban all but inevitable at this point, Australians will have fewer options of where to play. Some of those poker rooms that remain may not have the best reputation.
Any online poker room that continues to accept players from a country where legislators have attempted to ban online poker has a certain sense of deviance. And while that is definitely true, many online gambling websites that continue to operate in these countries where they have been grey or blacklisted, continue to offer players fair games, fast cashouts and solid customer support.
Despite the ban, the fact is those that love playing online poker are going to find a way to play (this is an obvious reason prohibition does not work). If you are among the players who decides to keeping playing, you need to aware that there some inherent risks. Even with some risks, chances are you will still be able to enjoy online poker in a similar way in which you did before.
Poker Rooms Likely to Continue Offering Games to Australians
So what are some of the rooms that are likely to accept Australians after the amendment is officially passed? For that answer, we look to America. For the past 6-11 years, most online poker rooms have left the United States. Some have continued to offer games. Some have failed. The ones that remain are generally an Australian player’s best bet for who will offer games when the dust has settled. They are also the poker rooms that have proven to be the most reliable.
Here is a sampling of the top American-facing poker rooms that could be open to Australians:
|Potential Australian Online Poker Choices After Ban|
|Poker Room||Traffic||Other Information|
|Americas Cardroom (WPN)||Large||Very good traffic at many games, very fast cashouts, lucrative promotions|
|BetOnline (Chico)||Medium||Fast cashouts, large sign-up bonus, excellent games, sportsbook, casino|
|Intertops (Horizon)||Small||Established in the 1990's, low poker traffic but good promotions|
Most experienced players will tell you that the poker rooms above will provide you with reasonable protection.
But there may be one hurdle to this option. The Australian Communications and Media Authority may create a blacklist for some or many of these operators. This could include IP blocking, which would add an additional layer of difficulty for players to hoping to play online poker. It remains to be seen if this option will be used to prevent players from playing.
What You Can Do to Help
Obviously, unregulated online poker is not ideal for Australians, or anybody for that matter. While there many online poker rooms doing a solid job of regulating themselves, nothing beats the peace of mind of regulated online poker. The standards are much higher and your chances of ever losing your money are near zero.
While this law will past, there are things that Australian poker players can do to show their support for regulation. In the United States, efforts like these lead to regulation in three states with more hopefully to come in the future.
The Australian Online Poker Alliance, with nearly 3k followers, is a great resource for players to follow the latest developments and instructions on how to speak up for your right to play online poker.
— Steve Sim (10Xer) (@Steven10xSim) March 31, 2017