The newly formed Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA) reported back this week on the remarkable progress it has made in the short time since its formation to fight federal government changes to the Interactive Gambling Act that could see online poker banned in the country.
Founder and energetic driver Joseph Del Duca has initiated a campaign for poker fans to contact their political representatives and appeal for their assistance in preventing any ban, and has spent time in legislative capital Canberra lobbying politicians and expanding their knowledge of the game and its place in Australian society.
Del Duca has been encouraged in his activity by Senator David Leyonhjelm, who has filed an amendment calling for the exclusion of poker from any changes to the IGA (see previous InfoPowa report).
Del Duca says his interaction with a range of lawmakers has in general been positive, giving hope that online poker and the right of players to legally play it can be protected.
But he has warned against complacency and urged poker players to keep up the pressure on lawmakers to ensure the issue remains active and that player views continue to receive attention.
The coalition nature of the federal government works for the AOPA’s goals, Del Duca has opined, pointing out that the ruling administration is centre-right in ideology, which gels with the AOPA position that individual citizens should have the right to choose which recreational games and hobbies to follow within the law, without big government interference.
The AOPA has also made the points that there is no correlation between problem gambling and online poker, and that the government’s own commissions enquiring into online gambling have in the past recommended that licensing and regulation, and not prohibition, is the preferred route to follow.
“There is really no reason for a government that stands for freedom of choice would not listen to our calls and allow peer-to-peer online poker services for Australian citizens,” Del Duca says, revealing that he even managed to speak to arch anti-gambling politician Sen. Nick Xenophon, who listened and appeared to understand the AOPA argument.
Del Duca suggests that the intention of the federal government in its moves on the IGA was never to ban online poker in Australia, and it is now imperative that player efforts on the political and social media fronts continue to show lawmakers that there is a fair and viable alternative to banning a game that is enjoyed by tens and perhaps hundreds of thousands of Australians.
The government plans to hold discussions on the proposed IGA changes later this (March) month.
The “Keep Australian Poker Legal” website and player campaign aids can be accessed here: http://www.taxpayers.org.au/keep_online_poker_legal