By Ian Hiaring, Rakeback.com Poker News Staff Writer
An Australian newspaper reported Saturday that authorities are pressing for a stepped-up campaign against online poker websites that are operating illegally in the country.
The Brisbane based Courier-Mail says that the Australian Crime Commission is calling upon the Federal Government and the Australian Federal Police to target poker websites that have been circumventing Australian law. Legislation passed a decade ago makes it illegal to provide online poker, bingo, and casino games to Australians, and under the Interactive Gambling Act, companies that do so may be subject to fines as high as $1.1 million a day.
In the decade that the Interactive Gambling Act has been in effect, no organization or company has been charged with violating it. The problem lies with the cross-jurisdictional nature of the internet, and Australia having difficulty enforcing its laws on companies that aren’t based within its borders.
A spokeswoman for Digital Economy Minister Stephen Conroy stated that, “The Government continues to examine the regulatory approaches taken by other countries to online gambling to see what can be learned about the best way to respond.”
Obviously the recent events of Black Friday, in which indictments were handed out in the United States to key figures behind the three of the largest internet poker sites in the world, are a recent example of how to handle the problem. But an Australian crackdown was being though of last year, when an Australian Productivity Commission report on online gaming stated that the IGA has had very limited success, and that it’s potential to reduce online poker was likely to “decrease over time”. The report also made mention that if online poker were to be legalized, it could be regulated; or in other words…taxed.
Last month, just a week after Black Friday, the same newspaper published an article on several Australian online poker players who were making hundreds of thousands of dollars. That article mentions that this money is earned tax-free. As a result of the article, several prominent Australian players have removed their statistics and winnings from pocketfives.com.
The question remains, will there be a version of Black Friday for Australian poker players? At this point it’s unclear, but it certainly seems that the wheels are in motion for it to happen.
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