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Leyonhjelm pulls support of IGAB over online poker

Tue, Mar 21, 10:56am by Staff Writer

Liberal Democrat Senator David Leyonhjelm has called on Australian online poker players to circumvent any new law which would prevent them from playing, as the contentious Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill passed its second reading in the Senate.

A host of amendments, including one from Pauline Hanson which suggested a ban on gambling company Lottoland operating in Australia, were proposed, but the Bill progressed without change on a 37-26 division in the Senate.

Senator Leyonhjelm was one of those who opposed the Bill, along with Senator Cory Bernardi, who recently left the Liberal Party to form his own Australian Conservatives movement.

Senator Leyonhjelm had earlier proposed an amendment to exclude online poker from the provisions of the Bill, but in debating the Bill on Monday indicated he did not support IGAB in any form.

“Banning live betting on the internet in this country will have no more impact on match-fixing than banning the production of pornography in Australia would have on the availability of porn,” he told the parliament.

“The internet just does not work that way. The only winners will be unregulated, untrustworthy offshore operations, and punters will have no protection if they get ripped off.”

“Australia loves to ban things. This ban on live betting adds to the nanny state nonsense and it will not stop match fixing. It could also turn hundreds of Australians who have been betting online without harming anyone else into our latest class of criminals.”

He said that Australians who enjoyed online poker as a pastime were victims of the legislation, which implements penalties for overseas operators who offer gambling services.

The threat of sanction has seen the likes of poker giant Pokerstars, indicate they may abandon the Australian market.

“Online poker is not a spectator sport. Nobody tries to fix a cricket match as part of an online poker game. There is no public interest in banning it as part of interactive gambling laws,” Sen Leyonhjelm said,

“I have an amendment to exempt online poker and blackjack from the bill. It is insane that they were ever caught up in it. But ultimately, I don’t want the bill to pass. I believe individuals have a right to make decisions for themselves, no matter whether we would make the same decisions ourselves.”

“Finally, if the legislation passes, I would like to take this opportunity to give some advice to online poker players. Notwithstanding the risk of offshore hosts, screw the government: get yourself a VPN and an offshore account and carry on as you were. And I wish all of you the best of luck.”

Senator Hanson meanwhile, said here One Nation Party wanted to see the end to Lottoland’s operations in Australia. Lottoland is licensed through the Northern Territory Gambling Commission and offers Australians a chance to bet on the results of international lotteries.

“Lottoland is jeopardising the 4500 newsagents who rely on lotteries. They contribute $1.4 billion across the nation in taxes that are paid and a further $150 million in GST. Lottoland, you might think, is a big organisation, employs people and brings a lot to the country, but it does not. It only employs six people. And yet I am sure we have seen, if not hundreds of thousands, possibly even millions of dollars leaving the country, tax free,” Sen Hanson said.

“What we have to consider and what I will be moving today is an amendment. I am led to believe that Lottoland have been shut down in France and Italy, and the UK is now looking at shutting them down. The amendment that I will move here today to part of this bill is basically to put a stop to organisations like Lottoland that provide a service relating to betting on the outcome of a lottery.”

Senator Hanson and her party supported the passage of the Bill through the second reading.


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