AUSSIE PLAYERS FIGHT AGAINST ONLINE POKER BAN

Joseph Del Duca

An unfavourable result in the Australian parliament isn't restricting Australians from continuing the battle for online poker.

Many people reckon the writing is on the wall following an amendment that would have exempted online poker from the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 failed to pass. The bill itself has yet to pass into law as some formalities have not been hammered out, but doom seems to be on the horizon for online poker in Australia.

Not so fast, claims Joseph Del Duca of the Australian Online Poker Alliance.

"How many times in poker have you seen a player lose a big hand early on and then come back and win?" he spoke to PokerNews. "This happens all the time and our campaign is no different. Poker players are amazingly resilient people. Giving up is not the answer.

"We still have a long way until the final table so it is important that we all stay positive and focused on the job at hand. We know that this decision has hurt and saddened a lot of the Australian online poker community. Our message to you is this: We may have lost the battle, but we will win the war."

Del Duca emphasized that this setback, while potentially important, could be overcome. In fact, he's taking solace that the grassroots efforts of the community he managed has made progress fighting against what initially seemed like a forgone conclusion.

Australia has dedicated live poker rooms, such as the one at Crown Melbourne which hosts Aussie Millions. There are also numerous home games and "pub games" for players. According to him, for those games to exist and online poker to be outlawed.

"We're saying, 'You're not allowed to do that online, you're only allowed to do that face-to-face,'" he said. "It's a little bit like saying, 'You're allowed to talk to each other by telephone, but you're not allowed to talk to each other by FaceTime, because FaceTime goes via a server in another country.’’

"We're saying one kind of playing poker is OK, but another kind of playing poker is not OK, because it's online. I mean, seriously, this is the 21st century — almost everything is online these days."

The departure of major operators from Australia has already begun with 888poker exiting the online market in January. A senior official from PokerStars also confirmed the world's leading operator will be leaving "very soon."

That implies that poker players in Australia who want to continue to play online will either need to circumvent the laws using available tech like virtual private networks (VPNs) or they'll resort to less scrupulous black market operators.