The Australian government’s attempts at stopping online poker have failed. There are reportedly now more illegal poker sites than ever and industry leaders are pushing for a return to “safe, legal online poker.”
Joseph Del Duca, the founder and head of the Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA) responded publicly to a recent report published by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which had indicated that “33 prominent offshore wagering sites” had gone out of circulation over the year since the country changed its online poker laws. He pointed out, however, that the figures were skewed because online poker was included as one segment of all types of interactive gaming activity in an effort to embellish the numbers. Del Duca added that the regulations have only forced online poker players to feed their habits in alternative sites that are not regulated.
Says Del Duca, “During our campaign we have spoken with thousands of Australian poker players. To a person, nobody we have spoken to has stopped playing. They have merely shifted to different sites…Yes, some grey market sites may have gone, but they have been replaced with different ones.”
Del Duca further indicates, “If anything, there are more unregulated poker sites for players to choose from today than there was previously. Many of the new emerging sites are much worse than the ones that ACMA has forced away…Instead of using actual money online they use a fake currency to play and then transfer money to players away from the site through black market sources”.
Nerida O’Loughlin, chair of the ACMA, recently asserted, “We expect the combination of clearer laws, an active regulator and stronger enforcement measures to continue to disrupt the provision of illegal interactive gambling services to Australians.”
According to Del Duca, this is completely erroneous. He explained, “ACMA pulls its numbers from a list of 138 sites that they put together years ago,” he claims, explaining that the new sites springing up constantly puts players – and the Australian public in general – at a much higher risk.
“This has dramatic consequences for Australia in relation to potential money laundering and terrorism funding risks,” he says. “It also forces vulnerable Australians into direct contact with questionable people if they want to use funds to play and ensures there is no recourse for Australians when these transactions inevitably turn sour.”
Del Duca has the solution and it’s one that has already been recognized by jurisdictions around the world in a number of industries. The only way to provide consumer protection for an industry is by legalizing it. He adds, “Not only does this provide huge taxation and freedom of choice benefits but it is the only way to ensure hard working, every day Australians who enjoy playing poker.”