- IGA Amendment Bill 2016 will effectively outlaw offshore betting in Australia
- Changed have caused some brands, including 32Red and 888 to leave the Australian market
- Some in the industry speculate this could lead bettors to look to Bitcoin casinos
It’s been a bad year for Aussie punters and a good one for Bitcoin. While the Australian government has ramped up its efforts to crackdown on offshore casino gambling, Bitcoin has been reaching record highs against the dollar and enjoying mainstream adoption at numerous online casinos and ecommerce stores.
Now, some in the industry are predicting that Bitcoin and Aussie bettors could potentially become directly interlinked.
In the next few months, it appears all but certain that the IGA Amendment Bill 2016 will be passed, effectively torpedoing offshore gambling for Australian citizens – officially at least.
When Australians find themselves unable to use offshore casinos using their credit cards, there is every possibility that the more determined among them could potentially look to seek alternative payment methods, with Bitcoin very much first, second and third in that queue.
Bitcoin has no central issuing authority
While there are steps that the Australian government can take to mitigate the ease with which its citizens can wager offshore, there’s little that can be done to effectively stop Bitcoin.
The cryptocurrency has no central issuing authority and short of imposing the sort of internet firewall last seen in North Korea, there is no practical means of curtailing Bitcoin usage in the country.
Besides, Australia is known for having an extremely tech-literate population, with cities such as Melbourne brimming with startups that are finding innovative uses for technologies such as the blockchain which powers Bitcoin. Cracking down on Bitcoin usage – even if such a thing were possible – wouldn’t necessarily be doing the country’s tech sector any favours.
“Screw the government”
While it seems inevitable that the IGA Amendment Bill 2016 will pass, it’s worth noting that not all politicians in Australia are in favour of it. A number have called it out as being a means of clamping down on the flow of revenue to other countries rather than a bill designed with the welfare of Australian gamblers in mind, as it’s ostensibly being labelled.
“Screw the government and get a VPN,” said Senator David Leyonhjlem, a man in no mood for mincing his words. The Senator had introduced an amendment that would still have permitted online poker and blackjack but his proposal was thrown out.
South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon is the man who’s been leading the anti-gambling brigade and right now it is they who’ve been more successful in their campaigning. As a consequence, operators such as 32Red Casino and 888 Casino have already abandoned their presence in Australian and other major brands are likely to follow suit.
In a market that’s devoid of licensed operators, there’s going to be a gaping void that’s begging to be filled, and some predict that this is where Bitcoin casinos could come in. Given that Australians gamble more per capita than any other nation, wagering a total of $23 billion in 2014-15, it’s reasonable to believe that Aussie punters will be at least looking in Bitcoin’s direction.
This is – for now – a hypothetical situation. What is pretty much certain is that offshore casino gambling is soon to come to an end for Australian bettors. Will they look to alternative methods of gambling? Who knows. But, what we do know is that Bitcoin is something of a loophole in these instances. It allows anonymous transactions, has no central issuing authority and, if you use the right VPN, is near-on impossible to trace. It also has practical reasons too – like speed of transaction as an example. We’ll stick one thing on the table right now from our perspective: if it’s illegal to bet with offshore sites it’s also illegal to do it with Bitcoin. But, due to the reasons above, and the seemingly high appreciation for gambling in Australia, it’s easy to see why some are speculating that Bitcoin could soon see a little more busy.
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