GPWA Times Magazine - Issue 39 - November 2017

idence proving that regulation is the key to keeping players safe. Of course, we must also mourn the official loss of in-play betting. One of the loopholes the bill fixed allowed in-play bets to be made over the phone, which enterprising bookies turned into a “click to call” feature on their websites, thereby speeding up the process – exactly what the lawwas meant to prevent in the first place. Sen. Leyonhjelm had it right when he ar- gued in a Senate speech that “the only win- ners will be unregulated, untrustworthy offshore operations, and punters will have no protection if they get ripped off.” “It’s stupid,” he remarked to HuffPost Australia. Has no one told these people that regula- tion is beneficial for all? That’s what the situation looks like, at any rate. Australia’s gambling industry was hit by the tides of legislation in August after the passage of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016. This bill, first intro- duced in late 2016, landed something of a two-punch K.O., closing loopholes that allowed sports betting and smothering the chances of online poker, previously a grey market in the country, in the process. The bill increases restrictions on offshore operators providing online services. What- ever isn’t specifically authorizedwithin the legislation is nowconsidered illegal, includ- ing online poker. Operators found shirking the rules will nowbe facedwith hefty fines. Companies such as PokerStars andpartypo- ker have vacated the market where 80% of adults are reported to gamble in some form. And since Australians spend almost $1,000 per person on gambling, that’s amajor loss. All this is despite attempts in July by the Australian Online Poker Alliance to stop the bill in its tracks. Understandably, the WALL OF SHAME As the mythical city of Atlantis sank as a result of its hubris, so too does Australia sink to the bottom of the online gambling ocean, never to be seen again . . . Australia skyline illustration by Shallu Narula/Shutterstock online poker community – about 130,000 strong – felt blindsided. AOPAandAustralian Senator DavidLeyon- hjelm took it upon themselves to point out theways inwhich the bill wouldput players at risk. (The heartwarming portion of this story is the number of people in the commu- nitywho showedup to protect online poker.) Black market providers will be quick to fill the voids and screwplayers over with their shady ways. Prohibition in other countries has resulted in the proliferation of illegal poker operators and scores of disappointed playerswho have had, collectively, millions of dollars stolen fromthem– and, because of these bills, there’s nowhere to turn for help. Senator Nick Xenophon, whose aversion to online gambling landed him on our Wall of Shame back in 2010, made the milque- toast argument that “it is something that needs to be debated further,” despite ev- The Australian Senate Nick Xenophon W W W . G P W A T I M E S . O R G 72