Though Bitcoin acceptance is gaining momentum worldwide, Australia has suffered a minor setback in this area as the Winning Poker Network (WPN) announced that it has stopped doing business in the country. This poker group and its flagship site Americas Cardroom have been ardent BTC supporters, having first started to transact in the crypto-currency early in 2015, and they were also the second-largest online poker provider in the Land Down Under. This news represents a blow for altcoin enthusiasts as well because the WPN allows users to make deposits and withdrawals in more than 60 different digital coins.
Beginning Aug. 25, 2018, anyone who visits the Winning Poker Network’s website from an Australian IP address sees the following message:
On August 9th, 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.”
Reasons for Abandoning Australia
As stated in the text shown above, Australia does not permit unlicensed operators to provide online poker games to its residents. The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill is the name of the Australian law that established this prohibition although the WPN made a mistake by saying that it was passed in 2016 rather than 2017, the actual year that it came into law. Making this embargo on unlicensed sites even more unfair, there aren’t any licensed online cardrooms because there’s no procedure yet in place for obtaining an internet poker license in the country.
The laws on the books are only part of the picture though. Bitcoin poker players often have an array of online destinations to choose from even in jurisdictions where the pastime is banned. This is because such prohibitions are usually tough to enforce, and crypto-currency allows users to circumvent transaction blocking and other banking tactics intended to prevent them from gaming online.
Thus, the move to discontinue Australia-facing operations probably depended upon several factors, the presence of prohibitory statutes being only one. The WPN also has exposure to traditional financial institutions because it works with fiat currency in addition to cryptos, and so fears about Australian banking regulations may also have played a role in its recent decision. There have been rumors that a poker licensing scheme may be implemented in a year or two, in which case the WPN might be attempting to keep a clean image in the eyes of the Australian government by ceasing to flout the law. This would enable it to more quickly and successfully obtain license approval in any regulated market that’s eventually created.
Other Gambling Firms Affected
There are numerous other gambling firms that have felt the heat in Australia and have elected to call it quits. They include PokerStars, 32Red, PartyPoker and Pinnacle Sports. With the removal of each of these sites, Australians who enjoy internet gaming have seen the list of places where they can bet online reduced.
Yet, there are other entities that have performed their own cost-benefit analyses and have concluded that the rewards of continuing to serve Australia’s lucrative real money gambling economy are worth the risks.
Ignition Casino, a mainstay of the U.S.A. “gray market” online poker scene, actually opened its doors to Australians for the first time while the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill was still moving through the parliamentary process. It instantly became the biggest poker destination online for Australians. Needless to say, this company was undeterred by the final passage of the bill, and it continues to happily welcome Australians to its casino and the attached poker room. Ignition offers Bitcoin and Bitcoin Cash acceptance although all funds are converted to and from U.S. dollars for use in the games.
Nitrogen Sports perhaps does even better by eschewing national currencies altogether and dealing only in bitcoins for both cashier functions and actual gameplay. While its poker division is fairly small compared to Ignition’s, it has a sportsbook, which Ignition lacks. Australians and residents of most other countries around the world can access the Nitrogen website without incident.
Poker With Bitcoin is Easy
Throughout the poker community, players are discovering the utility of Bitcoin and, to a lesser extent, other crypto-currencies. As an activity that’s typically viewed as a vice and, at best, barely tolerated by the authorities, poker is the subject of recurring crackdowns and prosecutions in various jurisdictions. By transacting in bitcoins, card game lovers can mostly avoid these problems and can do so without paying high fees. A well-researched guide explaining how to buy and sell bitcoins is all newcomers need to get started in this exciting arena.