Australian online poker fans are being urged by the Australian Online Poker Alliance action group to make submissions in support of legalised online poker to a Senate panel tasked with making recommendations to the federal government on the issue of whether online poker should be included in blanket online gambling bans.
The possibility of such bans is due for debate by parliament later this year in its revamp of the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act.
AOPC spokesman and founder Joseph Del Duca says that just a week remains before the deadline for submissions to the enquiry on July 21, commenting:
“We are fast running out of time to save online poker in Australia. The time to act is now.”
Advice on how to make a submission to the Senate enquiry is available on the AOPC website, says Del Duca, adding:
“It is important that we get as many members of our community to make their voices heard so the government understands how important our hobby is to us. It only takes a few minutes and your submission could be the one that saves online poker in Australia.”
A number of tier one online poker operators have already left the Australian market after the federal government’s determination to follow the prohibition route became clear earlier this year.
The danger is that less reputable and established operators will take their chances and enter the vacuum caused by these withdrawals, placing players at greater risk…several reports claim this influx of illegal operators (they cannot obtain licensing in Australia) has already started.
Online poker operator PokerStars supports the AOPC drive for player submissions, emailing its Australian player base to advise them of the AOPC appeal for their voices to be heard.
PokerStars communications chief Eric Hollreiser issued a statement applauding the enquiry and the debate around online poker that it has triggered.
“PokerStars is encouraged by the inquiry and the debate around online poker it has created,” he said. “This inquiry now gives officials the chance to understand the realities of online poker and what its removal will mean to many of the people that they represent.”
The Alliance has already made submissions to the Senate enquiry, along with a number of other interested parties.
Vehement anti-gambling crusader Sen. Nick Xenophon made an uncharacteristically mild submission, pointing out that “…there is an inconsistency in the approach of the government and opposition to sports betting, where you can bet thousands of dollars at a time per game or per sporting event compared to online poker, where there could be some very strict limits as to what could be bet. It is something that needs to be debated further.”
Problem gambling specialist Dr. Sally Gainsbury commented that many Australians played online poker, and the withdrawal of major operators is unlikely to prompt many players to halt their online poker activity, but could instead force them to use less reputable operators taking advantage of the vacuum in the market.