Australian Online Poker Players Left with Few Options

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Australian Online Poker Players Left with Few Options

Last year, the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill passed through the Australian Parliament, heralding the start of the country’s own Black Friday like the one that affected the United States online poker market back in 2011. Soon after, international gambling operators began to withdraw their products from the country, as there was no licensing regime in place that would allow them to legally maintain their presence in the market. This included such major brands as 888poker, PartyPoker, and PokerStars.

A few independent sites, however, decided to carry on regardless, including the likes of Bovada, the Winning Poker Network, and the Chico Poker Network. That situation has changed dramatically over the past few months, though, after the Chico Poker Network exited Australia in April, meaning players could no longer access sites such as BetOnline, Tiger Gaming, and Sportsbetting.ag. In August, the Winning Poker Network subsequently became the latest operator to follow suit, although why the decision was taken almost one full year after its larger publicly-traded competitors made that same decision remains unclear.

Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill

In 2001, the Australian legislature first addressed the onset of online gambling in the country by introducing its Interactive Gambling Bill. In 2016, Australian politician, Barry O’Farrell, was then tasked with investigating the impact of offshore wagering on the Australian market, with the ensuing report ultimately concluding that $400 million in bets are placed each year on ‘illegal’ online gambling websites, resulting in a tax revenue loss of around $100 million for the government.

In August 2016, Ministers Alan Tudge and Mitch Fifield subsequently introduced their Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill targeting illegal offshore gambling, although its final passage through the legislature didn’t occur until the following August. The piece of legislation subsequently became effective in September 2017.

WPN Exits Australia

Operator opting to exit the Australian market subsequently block its players from accessing their accounts or creating new ones. On Saturday, August 25, the Winning Poker Network similarly announced that it was no longer accepting Australian residents, with the decision affecting a number of sites hosted on the network, including Americas Cardroom, BlackChip Poker, True Poker, and Ya Poker. Anyone attempting to access any of these WPN poker rooms were greeted with the following message:

“On August 9, 2016, the Australian parliament passed the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill, effectively banning all online gambling sites that are not locally licensed under Australian State or Territory Law. For this reason, the Winning Poker Network does not allow customers from Australia to play at any of the following poker sites: Americas Cardroom, Black Chip Poker, Ya Poker, True Poker.”

The fact the message gets the actual date that the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill passed wrong is certainly worrying. What is not of concern, though, is the safety of player funds. Over the years, the WPN has faithfully payed out its customers’ money in a speedy and honest fashion, and as of today there have been no reports of affected customers not receiving their funds. Furthermore, the WPN supports cryptocurrency transactions, meaning customers can also avoid any potential delays associated with old-method payment processors.

In the meantime, there has been no official deadline announced for withdrawing funds from the WPN, while anyone seeking further information and assistance is encouraged to contact their customer service department.

Options Limited

The Winning Poker Network’s exit comes as yet another blow to Aussie poker players as it also hosted US players and therefore attracted player pools big enough to support cash games, as well as attractive sized tournaments and prize pools. Now that the WPN is no longer available, the only viable real-money online poker option available to the country’s players would appear to be Ignition Poker.

The site is quite new to Australian players as it only became available to them in July 2017. Nevertheless, it popularity has grown exponentially since then as it is part of a network that includes well-known brands Bodog and Bovada, both of which have established, respected reputations within the online poker industry. Similar to WPN, American and Australian players are able to compete against one another across its virtual tables, while a healthy ecosystem is encouraged through the use of anonymous games that help limit some of the advantages enjoyed by more experienced players.

In addition, Ignition players are able to make deposits and withdrawals via a number of different methods, including Visa, Mastercard or even digital currencies such as Bitcoin.

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