Just when many had thought poker was turning mainstream in Australia, the religious right has come out fighting. At the weekend the sponsorship of the Sydney Roosters by Full Tilt Poker.net was called into question by the NRL after government advice. This also calls into question the legality of sponsorship of other Australian events by online poker sites.
But news today has put the Australian poker community into even more of a spin, with former-test Cricketer Shane Warne taking heat from notable anti-gambling campaigner Tim Costello. Costello lends his voice to several social justice campaigns including World Vision’s anti-famine campaign in third world countries, but has found the time to also speak on behalf of the InterChurch Gambling Taskforce which “urges the Victorian Government to take a socially responsible stance towards gambling”.
Warne has come under scrutiny from Costello for offering $8 free for signing up to 888Poker.com on his twitter feed. As a part of his sponsorship with 888.com Warne promotes the brand frequently and his twitter page forms one element of this marketing campaign. This brings him into direct conflict with the InterChurch Gambling Taskforce who are keen to stamp out all advertising of gambling which they argue encourages problem gambling in the community.
With the current proposed legislation for an “Internet Filter” still being pushed through Parliament by Senator Stephen Conroy, it appears that Australian poker players could have an upcoming battle on their hands from Canberra. It is alarming to consider that if the proposed internet filter does make it into law, there will be special interest groups potentially lobbying the government to ensure that online poker is included in the list of prohibited sites.
The good news is that interested poker players can still exercise their democratic right to campaign against the proposed filter and law changes. One such campaign is GetUp’s anti-internet censorship campaign. This incident should serve as a warning to online poker players that they need to get active to protect their current legal rights from those interested in changing the laws to suit their agendas.
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Shane Warne is facing up to criticism from anti-gambling campaigners
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