This week the Australian Senate voted to close the various loopholes in the 2001 online gambling prohibition laws by passing the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016.
The bill will close in-play betting "click to call" workarounds and online poker loopholes that will tighten the federal government's laws on internet betting. The new rules in place have drawn criticism from some, who claim that punters will find a way to continue playing the games they want to.
Speaking in opposition to the bill Senator David Leyonhjelm said, "The original 2001 law was meant to stop online gambling of many kinds, but it didn't, there was a loophole. There is quite an active online poker community in Australia. I don't think it [the amended legislation] will succeed for those really determined. If you have a virtual private network or offshore account, you will still play. It's a stupid situation to be in."
"It will promote the black market. There are ways to circumvent these prohibition approaches. People will gamble using foreign providers by various means. They will be in the hands of sometimes shady providers, and if they get ripped off, they will have no recourse."
The tightening of Australia's betting laws have seen several larger and more reputable sites pulling out of the market, leading to smaller groups filling the cracks. While these sites aren't all necessarily bad, they certainly aren't as stable and have a higher chance of going rogue or implementing predatory terms and conditions on players.
The irony is that in a legal sense the changes mean almost nothing for punters. While it is illegal under Australian law for an online casino to allow Australians to play (and always has been since 2001), it was a deliberate decision to not criminalise playing. So if an offshore casino (i.e. all of them) is willing to accept Australian players, punters are free to play without repercussions.
The bill is not law yet, and Casino Listings will be keeping an eye on the story in order to provide updates as they occur.