However, the slow pace for actually enacting the laws, makes people wonder if this is just a smokescreen designed to favor certain businesses or individuals.
The Australian Senate approved a number of amendments to the online gambling laws that were in place so far. The Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016 brought with it the plan to ban all gambling activities that are not licensed within the country. This brought huge unrest to all operators active in Australia since it wasn’t clear how they will be able to continue their activity and if a more clear licensing system will be set up quickly. Naturally, the confusion generated by these amendments resulted in an exodus of gambling operators. The biggest names so far are Vera&John, 888Poker, and PokerStars and there are rumors about many more to finally exit the market unless a procedure to acquire a license is rapidly put in place.
Is this the end of online gambling for Australians?
More and more analysts and political figures in the country are starting to show their concern regarding the process of changing the gambling laws in Australia. Their main claim, and a very good one for that matter, is that players will not simply stop playing. Instead, in its hunger for online pokies, Australia will go more and more underground, towards online casinos that are far less trustworthy than the ones that were basically kicked out through the new laws.
Not surprisingly, there are many voices claiming that the main purpose of the law changes is not the protection of Aussie casino players, since the process is moving so slow. Instead, some think, this is a move to benefit the highly influent operators that decided to stay in Australia and deliver online casino games illegally. Of course, such a move can’t be sustained without someone on the inside and if the accusations turn out to be true, we’re looking at a massive scandal.
IP blocks to make things even worse
The amendments to the Internet Gambling Act also talk about IP and DNS blocks operated by Internet Service Providers on all websites delivering online gambling services to Aussies and are not approved by a local authority. However, despite the law doesn’t specify certain criteria for which sites get blocked, it’s curious to notice that the IP blocks are mainly aimed at the big operators. Trustworthy online casinos that were providing high-standard services to Australian casino players are being blocked while less-popular websites are free to continue their adventure on Australian soil.
Correlated with the suspicions raised regarding the legitimacy of these amendments and their true goal of protecting the players in Australia, it’s turning into a subject you can’t really ignore. Never in history the solution to controlling such a widespread phenomenon wasn’t limiting access almost entirely. If the Australian authorities need a clear example, just look at the Prohibition in the United States. Concerned that too many citizens were abusing alcohol and the statistics for alcoholism and family violence going off the charts, the US banned alcohol altogether between 1920 and 1933. The result? A boom in illegal alcohol production and distribution with networks very similar to drug cartels nowadays. It’s not far-fetched to say that the measures to deal with alcohol-related issues actually made the problem worse and it took the US many years to recover from that period.
So, instead of focusing so much on blocking online casinos in Australia, the authorities should focus on coming up with a well-organized plan to regulate the market and provide the proper channels for operators to apply for a license, pay taxes and function in perfect harmony with the local authorities. That’s the only win-win situation for Australia right now. Casino enthusiasts will be able to enjoy their favorite slots and table games in a safe environment, the authorities will cash-in on the huge interest for gambling and the entire process will be supervised and easily controlled.