According to an email sent out by Mark Bryan, a gaming analyst at Merrill Lynch, the Australian government plans to legalize online poker sometime in the next six to 12 months. This move will coincide with a relaxation of other online betting restrictions, such as “in-play” live bets (bets made after the event has already begun).
Byran’s email included documents indicating a forthcoming change in the current Australian gaming legislation, the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. The documents included a new draft of this legislation. Recently, a Victorian regulatory review was quoted as saying that the current ban on in-play betting served “no useful purpose” due to the fact that it can already be done by phone.
This is a classic case of legislation needing to catch up with technology. Up until this point, the Australian government has so far taken up a “wait and see” approach to the issue of online gambling. They’ve been able to observe the effects of legalized poker legislation (such as that of France) as well as the anti-gambling legislation of the United States.
With any luck, the outcomes of the various case studies should prove to be very useful to Australian authorities. While the French opted to regulate online poker in their country, their legislation has resulted in high taxes as well as small and monopolized online poker sites. This is due to the legal requirement that French players are only allowed to play against other French players.
Australian brick and mortar poker games have some of the highest rakes in the world. This makes it likely that Australian players will not catch a break when it comes to the amount of rake they will need to pay in order to keep playing online.