Australia's iGaming ban followed by cashless gaming revolt

By Manuel Marti
As expected, Australia's Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 completed the last step to become enshrined in law earlier this week . Last Wednesday, the Australian Governor-General Peter Cosgrove approved the Royal Assent and the bill is about to acquire legal status.

The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 was introduced to the government last November by Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge. The amendment, which was initially posited as a revision of Australia’s gambling law from 2001, was granted success through a parliament vote last March.

The new legislation aims to tighten restrictions on offshore operators offering online services. However, under the law, online-gambling activities not specifically authorised within the regulation are considered illegal and will be banned, including online poker.

With the bill now being signed into law, online gaming is practically forbidden. Following this decision, the major iGaming operators have already withdrawn or announced their withdrawal from the country. For instance, PokerStars has confirmed that it will exit the Australian online poker market in mid-September.

Moreover, anti-gambling groups in Victoria have already expressed their concerns about plans to implement new casino machine systems. After failing to achieve popular support, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation is evaluating the introduction of new cashless systems in local clubs’ slot machines.

The new scheme, which Victoria citizens have openly rejected, would allow players to play without cash, using pre-paid tickets. However, anti-gambling groups suggest this new depositing method could increase problematic gambling among local residents.

Speaking to the local media, InterChurch Gambling Taskforce spokesperson Mark Zirnsak said: “It [this new system] can disguise the fact that people are losing real money, and may reinforce anonymous, intense and uninterrupted gambling (...) allowing for cashless gambling on pokies is something the government should be stopping, not giving a green light.”

On its behalf, Patrick Hutchens, a spokesperson for Gaming and Liquor Regulation responded: “Cashless gaming has operated at Crown Casino for several years and we understand some pubs and clubs are interested in introducing this technology at their venues.

“We’re currently considering appropriate harm minimisation measures for cashless gaming as part of our broader review of gaming machine regulations in Victoria.”


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