Is Australia getting ready to lift its poker restrictions?

  • Online poker could be classed as a sport under Horse Trading regulations
  • Communications minister Mitch Fifield has instructed his department to examine the possibility of Australian onshore providers obtaining licences to operate online poker

Australia could have taken a significant step closer to lifting online poker restrictions as Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm negotiated a review as a ‘liberty offset’ for agreeing to media reforms.

online poker Australia

This has led to communications minister Mitch Fifield instructing his department to undertake some preliminary work to examine the possibility of Australian onshore providers obtaining licences to operate online poker.

A swift turn of events

It was just last month the Australian Government approved the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, which led to strict gambling regulations limiting online wagering to just sports markets.

However, the potential deal that senator David Leyonhjelm has negotiated could see online poker restrictions lifted under ‘horse trading’ in order to deliver media reforms.

Any reforms would rely on Minister Fifield obtaining partyroom approval. However, the good news is that Senator Leyonhjelm has reportedly said that he understood Human Services Minister Alan Tudge was open to the changes.

Is poker a sport?

The amended bill which only passed last month, was brought in to tighten a number of grey areas in the previous bill from 2016. However, there was opposition to the proposed bid of stamping out online poker, as many argued it should be classed as a sport.

A plethora of online gambling companies have abandoned the country in recent month following the change in gambling laws. Heavyweight player PokerStars announced its withdrawal following the revelation of the amended bill with the pull out completed on September 11th.

However, if the reform happens, there’s every possibility we could see a dramatic U-Turn as the Australian punters have been known to be a valuable market to poker rooms.

Winning the battle

The swift movement is viewed as a major coup for Senator Leyonhjelm as he said in a statement: “I believe we have won the ‘in-principle’ battle. The question now will be how to make it happen in practice.”

Never a truer word was spoken, but how quickly things change will rely heavily on the Australian Governments desire to get the reform through.

However, this is a major step for Aussie punters to get back to playing in their beloved Poker rooms.

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