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Moves To Regulate Online Poker In Australian Afoot

Posted at 17:07 2012-05-28 by Barry Gallagher

Australia’s Communication Minister Stephen Conroy is on the verge of legalising online poker and in play sports betting according to a story broken by the Daily Telegraph. The newspaper found that the government in Canberra has told gaming industry members that online “in play” sports betting and online poker will be allowed in the next six to twelve months.

It is anticipated that the legislation will see legal online poker be approved for a trial period of five years and online in play sports betting will get a full pass. The aim of the measure is to help Australian punters avoid unregulated overseas betting sites. The Telegraph also published an email sent by Merrill Lynch and gaming analyst Mark Bryan to his clients which briefed them about the government's plans.

"In-play live online betting: Many in the industry indicated that they expect this to be legalized alongside poker in the next six-12 months following overseas precedents," Bryan wrote. "It seems Stephen Conroy's department recently provided a brief on draft legislation."

The current situation is legislated for in the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act whereby companies who provide online real-money gambling can face large fines but in practice no charge has been made since the law was enacted. Offshore sites have managed to work their way around the Australian rules. In practice at the moment Australians can play online poker and bet online. Betting online in play is however banned and customers must phone in a bet or do it in person.

The Victorian regulatory review recently said that the ban on online in-play betting served no useful purpose given that it could be done via the phone. Senator Conroy recently said that the laws are about trying to keep pace with technology. What difference is there between phoning the bet in or doing it online except it been slower and less efficient?

Another point is the mountain of tax revenue Australia is currently missing out on. The Herald Sun commented that this is a good opportunity for the government to profit on these types of gambling and the licenses they will sell to allow them. They believe the funds should be used to fund sport in the country and also to help problem gamblers.

With online poker been fully legalised and regulated by Australian license holders its likely there will be an increase in recreational players taking to the virtual felt which can only be good for the game. Taking a grey area out of the law can only be a move in the right direction and it can only be a positive for Australian players that the government is choosing the regulation road rather than the suggestions put forward by a recent gambling reform committee report which recommended against legalising online poker and in play online betting.

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