Australian Online Poker Alliance in Call to Arms2 weeks ago
The Australian government’s battle to curb online gaming by making it illegal has failed miserably according to a leading figure in the industry, Joseph Del Duca claiming that there are now more illegal sites than ever and calling for a return to ‘safe, legal online poker’.
The head and founder of the community-run activist group Australian Online Poker Alliance (AOPA) has spoken out following a report released by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) that claims “33 prominent offshore wagering sites” have withdrawn over the past year.
However, with online poker being lumped in with all manner of interactive gaming services, it is claimed that last year’s changes to the IGA have had little effect other than to drive online poker players to ever-more shady sites.
“During our campaign we have spoken with thousands of Australian poker players. To a person, nobody we have spoken to has stopped playing. They have merely shifted to different sites”.
The problem with this? The government crackdown has spawned more of the very thing it was intended to do away with.
The Hydra Effect
In ancient Greek mythology the Hydra was a many-headed and much-feared beast – but chop one head off and other, more fearful, heads would appear. This mirrors Del Duca’s view of the effect ACMA has had on the industry.
“Yes, some grey market sites may have gone, but they have been replaced with different ones,” he explains, adding: “If anything, there are more unregulated poker sites for players to choose from today than there was previously. Many of the new emerging sites are much worse than the ones that ACMA has forced away,” says Del Duca, who insists “Instead of using actual money online they use a fake currency to play and then transfer money to players away from the site through black market sources”.
ACMA Chairperson Nerida O’Loughlin stated recently:
"We expect the combination of clearer laws, an active regulator and stronger enforcement measures to continue to disrupt the provision of illegal interactive gambling services to Australians."
This, says Del Duca, is a fallacy.
“ACMA pulls its numbers from a list of 138 sites that they put together years ago,” he claims, explaining that the new sites springing up constantly puts players – and the Australian public in general - at a much higher risk.
“This has dramatic consequences for Australia in relation to potential money laundering and terrorism funding risks,” he says. “It also forces vulnerable Australians into direct contact with questionable people if they want to use funds to play and ensures there is no recourse for Australians when these transactions inevitably turn sour”.
A Call to Arms
Joseph Del Duca is very clear about what needs to be done to protect Australians:
“If you are serious about protecting Australians, don’t send them to black market operators - regulate online poker."
The benefits, he says, are clear.
"Not only does this provide huge taxation and freedom of choice benefits but it is the only way to ensure hard working, every day Australians who enjoy playing poker."
Del Duca ends his call to arms by stating:
“The AOPA calls on ACMA to stop patting themselves on the back over false truths and to get serious about protecting online poker players. The only way that they can do that is by joining with us to call for the Morrison Government to amend the IGA and to bring safe, regulated, online poker back to Australia”.
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