This week's poker news focuses on two areas of the world with very different outlooks towards online poker. While Australia appears to be getting out of the game, Hawaii might be trying to get in on the action.
Australia Appears To Be Moving Away From Online Poker
In 2016, the Australian government put forth the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill, which aimed at taking out unlicensed offshore betting websites. However, the language in the bill suggests that it would affect online poker sites as well. If passed in its current form, it would be really difficult for any type of remote gaming operators to offer service to Australians, which is why some are already pulling out. As it looks more and more like a reality, we've seen 888poker cease operations in Australia in January and PokerStars appears to be next. That would be a massive blow to online poker Down Under.
Some of the biggest names in Australian poker are trying to stop this as there is a petition on Change.org trying to get an exemption for online poker - if this bill in fact goes through. Joe Hachem is trying to get involved by using his voice. Hachem, who was born in Lebanon but raised in Melbourne, won the World Series of Poker Main Event in 2005 and is probably the biggest name in poker in Australia. He is looking to rally some support for the petition to help modify the bill, but that might not be enough. Unless there is a large enough outcry from the public, government might go through with their plans.
Hawaii Moves Towards Legalizing Online Poker
While Australia takes a step back from online poker, Hawaii looks to welcome it. This comes on the heels of a study that was done that showed that most residents are playing online already.
Hawaii has introduced a bill that would help to create a foundation for the "Hawaii internet lottery and gaming corporation". This bill, which was put forth on January 20, would require players to be at least 19 years old with all proceeds from online poker going towards funding public schools and the University of Hawaii (among other programs). It would also allow Hawaii to partner with other states for online gaming, such as the agreement between Nevada and Delaware.
There are a number of positives for this, as the revenue created from this the state believes will boost tax dollars, allow players to play in a safer environment and possibly even help with tourism. Hawaii doesn't have any land-based casinos, so they figure if online poker is legalized, they could host different events related to that and attract some business.
Hawaii isn't the only state looking into this as California, Massachusetts, Michigan, New York, Pennsylvania and Washington are hoping to investigate as well. Pennsylvania looks like they'll get their bill passed for their 12 land-based casinos. However, all of these states are waiting to see what the Trump administration does about the Wire Act, which was put forth in 1961 but reconfigured in 2011. The Wire Act prohibited interstate betting, but in 2011 it was changed as the Supreme Court still has to rule how it pertains to online betting. It could be a very interesting year for online gaming on a number of levels.