Australian senator launches online poker inquiry

By Robert Simmons
Australian Senator David Leyonhjelm is spearheading the launch of an online inquiry into Australia’s online poker market.

It is the latest in a series of efforts aiming to stop the implementation of a bill which bans online poker operators from operating in Australia.

The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill was initially aimed at closing loopholes in the previous Interactive Gambling Act which had allowed sports betting companies to effectively circumvent it.

However in closing these loopholes, Australian senators introduced legislation that effectively prohibits the operation of online poker sites. In an in interview with, Senator Leyonhejlm said that "I don't think they understood what they were doing."

"The fact that our country allows online sports betting and horse racing so freely, which are both truly gambling, and doesn't allow online poker is truly embarrassing."

Leyonhejlm unsuccessfully lobbied parliament to further amend the bill after it passed in March, however he believes that there is an appetite to take a second look at the legislation, saying: "If I initiate an inquiry which highlights the stupidity of the law as it stands, perhaps some changes can be implemented."

Citizens interested in contributing to the inquiry can submit their details on a specially developed website and will later be contacted by officials to voice their opinions on the proposed law changes.

Major industry players including Vera&John and 888poker have already withdrawn from their Australian operations and PokerStars is set to follow suit once the bill becomes law.

In addition to calling for the inquiry Leyonhejlm is one of the principle backers of the Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA), a group of local poker players opposing the changes.

The AOPA has created Keep Online Poker Legal petition and an online form which Australians can use to contact their local member of parliament regarding the changes.

Leyonhejlm added: "They kicked up quite a noise in the lead-up to the vote on the bill

"I appreciate the fact that they're there, they're cheering me on. And when the time comes, I know they'll spring into gear and make their voices heard.”

Joseph Del Duca, media contact for the AOPA told "It is amazing just how many poker players have come out and supported our fight to keep online poker in Australia,"

“The support has ranged from people of all ages from right across the country. It just shows that poker is truly a game which can be enjoyed by everyone. This is why we are fighting so hard to keep it.”


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