The result was the passing of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016. The new law took direct aim at offshore gaming sites by forcing them to acquire Australian gambling licenses if they wanted to offer their services to Australian residents. The updated act also made it illegal for operators to accept bets on live sporting events. Legislators felt that live betting opened the doors to match-fixing.
Now, it is an offense for online poker operators to accept Australian players if those companies don’t possess an Australian license. Individual players are not subject to penalties but operators who accept Australian players now face very severe monetary consequences. Even though online poker operators rake in millions, the fines that they face are significant enough to make them seriously consider their options.
Since the Australian government wasn’t issuing any new licenses at the time of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016’s passing, several of the large online poker sites decided to withdraw from the Australian market. While the updated act appeared to be effective, critics pointed out the many drawbacks that made the Act counterproductive in a lot of ways.
Banning online poker shouldn’t be mistaken for banning the game completely. Poker players are still able to play poker at land-based casinos and they can also play the pokies that can be found almost anywhere in the country. Also, the online poker ban effectively shut out huge revenue streams that could be tapped into by cash-strapped governments. There are plenty of Australians who don’t think that this makes any sense.
The issue of practicality must also be addressed. Players can use VPNs and private networks to access online poker sites and it is nearly impossible for authorities to do much about it. Prior to the passing of the new bill, gambling expert Sally Gainsbury of the University of Sydney predicted that the large operators would exit the market leaving players little choice but to turn to less-reputable providers. She said that the new bill would compromise player protection.
Senator David Leyonhjelm is a staunch proponent of legalized online poker and he responded to the passing of the Interactive Gambling Amendment bill by publicly recommending that online poker players ignore the government, get themselves a VPN, an and carry on as they did before.
The reality is that Australian players really don’t need to go to these lengths because there are still plenty of reputable offshore poker sites that welcome Australian players with open arms. These sites operate under the rules of the World Trade Organization which requires its members to give access to other member countries’ markets.
This means that Australian players really don’t have to go through the hassle of using VPNs, opening offshore bank accounts or creating fake names and addresses. In fact, those that go to these lengths can easily be found in violation of the terms and conditions that apply at online poker sites.
Furthermore, Tabcorp, who helped design the recent legislation, admitted that there are advantages to playing at offshore sites when they wrote that online poker players can realistically play at offshore sites without being detected because those sites are not subject to Australian laws or oversight.
All of this leaves one wondering whether or not the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016 has any more of a bite than its predecessor. Players face no repercussions and there is nothing to stop them from playing at offshore poker sites as long as those sites are willing to accept them.
Those sites that do accept Australians seem to be quite confident that they can operate without being interfered with. Add in the fact that many of the sites that accept Australian players are considered trustworthy and it looks like the term ‘poker ban’ is little more than a toothless buzzword.
Those who heed Senator David Leyonhjelm’s advice as far as continuing on as they did before the new legislation was enacted can do so with confidence. They have a huge selection of online poker sites to choose from and loads of valuable bonuses and promotions that they can easily take advantage of.
Some players may feel that the level of player protection that they are afforded might not be at the same level as it would be if their offshore poker site was licensed and regulated by the Australian government. Players must keep in mind that the vast majority of these offshore online poker sites are highly-rated and have earned good reputations by treating their customers fairly no matter where they come from.
As any other savvy online player does, Australian players just need to do a bit of basic research to ensure that they are playing at a trustworthy and licensed poker site.
Top 10 Poker Sites In Australia
100% upto $1000
Ignition Casino is still a very good site and this is especially true for American players. There are a lot of features that can be customized and the ability to play in anonymous mode can be very helpful for beginners. The welcome bonus is quite generous and the Weekly Boost just adds to the value
100% upto €1000
Boyle Poker is a fairly unknown outside Ireland, but due to running some big poker tournament in Ireland and also having betting shops in most towns, Boyle Poker is a respectable brand and a good choice for Irish Poker players.
100% upto $500
Bovada is part of the Bodog brand and is one of the most popular and trustworthy poker sites still operating in the US Poker market. Read our Bovada Poker review to see why its so popular.
100% upto $1000
The Bodog brand is one of the most recognisable brands worldwide. At one point Bodog was the biggest brand in the US and Asia. No longer in Asia but still a strong brand in Asia.
200% upto $1000 + 65% Rakeback
GG Poker is one of the online poker sites that we strongly recommend to poker players in Asia. It is very suitable for European players aswell when you consider the awesome 200% deposit bonus and 65% rake back.
200% upto $1000
Intertops has been running a successful online poker and online casino site for many years now. It has never had its time in the sun yet, as it has always been a middle of the road type gambling site. Although in our opinion a very solid poker site for US poker players if they can get over the fact its usually little dated.
200% upto $1000
Juicy Stakes Poker is part of the US friendly poker network Horizon Poker Network. It would be one of the more popular poker sites on the network along with Intertops. We slightly favour Intertops Poker as a choice for US players looking to play on the Horizon Poker Network, but Juicy Stakes Poker is a very strong alternative.
100% upto $1000
Black Chip Poker is one of the few online poker sites still accepting US traffic. Personally we prefer poker sites such as BetOnline, Bovada or Ignition Poker for US poker players, but Black Chip Poker is a decent choice if you are looking a site on the Winning Poker Network.
SWC Poker (previously known at Seals with Clubs) started as a niche poker site for bitcoin and cryptocurrency enthusiasts. It has slowly grown and is now a legit poker site for players from all over the world. We recommend SWC Poker to players from the US and Australia that don't mind playing on a smaller room.
BetOnline has been around for 20 years and they launched their online poker platform in 2011. They have built a reputation as being a trusted industry leader and they continue to get better. Those who play poker will be impressed by the choices that they have as far as the different games and ranges of stakes although they might not be blown away by the graphic environment. One of the pros of playing poker at BetOnline is the fact that there are usually several hundreds of active players most times which makes it easy to find action be it cash games or tournaments.
Online poker players who appreciate bonuses and ongoing promotions will like what BetOnline has to offer. From their current 50% Welcome Bonus up to $1,000 that is even available to cryptocurrency deposits to their 25% Lifetime Bonus Guarantee, there are plenty of ways to stretch out your poker budget.
BetOnline has one of the biggest selections of instant payment options and they take pride in providing players with plenty of quick and hassle-free withdrawal options. BetOnline Poker is definitely a great destination for Australian poker players.
GG Poker is a relatively new site that is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission and it is quickly becoming very popular especially in the Asian market. GG Poker takes a bit of a different approach in that the site puts a heavy focus on the social aspect of poker as well as player protection. This makes GG Poker an ideal poker site for novice players from Australia who want to learn the ropes.
As for the sharks that like to prey on inexperienced players, be warned that GG Poker happily roots out predatory players and think nothing of giving them a lifetime ban. All third-party poker software is prohibited and there is a strict code of conduct that is enforced so that players can have an enjoyable and safe poker experience.
There is a lot to love about GG Poker starting with their 200% First Deposit Bonus. Rewards, weekly missions, leaderboards, and their $10 million Big Hand Jackpot are just a few of the things that makes GG Poker a superior site for Australian players. Being able to stake other players, their All-In Insurance, and their PokerCraft analysis tool are some of the other unique features that make GG Poker such a great site.
BetSafe was established in 2006 and it is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission as well as the Malta Gaming Authority so Australian poker players can be certain that this site operates to the highest industry standards. Their catchy poker client can be quickly downloaded for both desktop and mobile platforms so that players can get instant access to their favorite games.
Australian poker players who sign up and make a deposit will be winners right off the bat when they cash in on their Welcome Bonus up to £1,000 and receive their free tickets into exclusive new player tournaments. BetSafe Poker also boasts an excellent VIP rewards program that players of any budget size can benefit from.
Players who log in will usually find hundreds of other players online at the same time which makes it easy to instantly find action. Those who prefer to play at smaller tables will love that BetSafe has plenty of 3, 4, at 5-seat tables to play on. BetSafe poker players will never be bored as they offer up a nice selection of tournaments on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis. Customers will also appreciate that the support team is on hand 24/7 and can even be reached by telephone.
Bwin is one of the biggest and most trusted brands in the industry so it should come as no surprise that their poker site is among the best in the world. Bwin Poker has been around since 1999 and the fact that it is licensed by the UK Gambling Commission speaks volumes. As soon as you arrive at the site it is obvious that Bwin Poker is serious about providing a top-notch poker experience. The site is very easy to navigate and players can download their poker client in a matter of seconds on either their desktop or mobile device. The graphics are among the best out there no matter which platform you prefer.
Bwin Poker has several bonuses and promotions available that are aimed at regular players as well as more casual part-time players. This site is ideal for Australian players who like to stick to micro stakes but there is also plenty of excitement for players with bigger budgets. Their upcoming MILLIONS Online is being billed as the largest online poker tournament in history and will feature a whopping $20 million in guaranteed cash prizes. This tournament will make millionaires out of the top four finishers.
Intertops was one of the first licensed online betting sites to hit the internet. Since 1996, this site has maintained a reputation for fast payouts and excellent customer satisfaction. An enjoyable poker experience begins when you make your first deposit and cash in on their 200% Welcome Bonus worth up to $1,000. Players have the option of downloading the site’s desktop or mobile platforms and they can also choose the instant play function. A good selection of payment options makes it easy for Australian players to make instant deposits.
One of the things that makes Intertops Poker stand above a lot of other poker sites is their awesome rakeback program through which players can get 36% of their rake returned. They also have plenty of incentives that are aimed at existing customers and their frequent tournaments offer some very nice prize packages.
Australian players can rest assured that their funds are safe as Intertops separates player accounts from their operational budget which means that a player’s funds are always on hand and easily available for withdrawal. This policy along with Intertops Poker’s commitment to customer satisfaction are just a couple of reasons why Australians can trust this popular poker site.
Americas Card Room
Despite the name, Americas Card Room accepts players from many countries around the world including Australia. Americas Card Room has been in business for over 17 years and they currently offer several games such as Hold’em, Omaha, stud poker, 32 card draw, and Six Plus Hold’em which is a Hold’em variation with fewer cards. Now that online poker is being legalized throughout many states in the U.S., the number of players that are online at any given time is rapidly growing.
Aside from some of the special tournaments that Americas Card Room hosts, they also have a nice selection of valuable bonuses waiting to be claimed. Players who make their first deposit of at least $25 can cash in on three bonuses. First, they will match your deposit up to $1,000. Those players will also receive 20 days of Free Cash up to $50 and they will also get a free ticket into their exclusive $250 New Depositor Freeroll.
Americas Card Room is also offering a 200% deposit bonus up to $1,000 when you make your first deposit using cryptocurrency. Customer service representatives are available through live chat at any time of the day.
William Hill Poker
When it comes to being an industry giant, they don’t get much bigger than William Hill. Licensed by the UK Gambling Commission and the Gibraltar Government, William Hill sets the standards of excellence by providing a highly-rated product, excellent customer service, and fast payouts. William Hill Poker uses the most up-to-date security features and all of the poker software is provided by Playtech which is one of the world’s leading developers.
Even though William Hill boasts a huge customer base, they still have a very nice offer for newcomers to the site. New players who make their first deposit of at least £10 will also receive a £7 cash game ticket which can be used in any cash game and they will also get 4 free tournament tickets worth £3.
On top of this, players can also get their hands on £100 in bonus cash regardless of how much they deposit. The bonus money is turned into cash by earning WH Points. 10 free spins is also added to the welcome package so that new customers can try out the casino. William Hill Poker offers a diverse selection of games that suit all poker budgets and with the heavy traffic that the site generates, customers don’t need to wait around to find the game of their choosing.
Ignition Casino Poker
Ignition Poker became one of the more recent additions to the online poker landscape after they assumed control of Bovada’s poker room. It hasn’t taken them long to develop a very good reputation as can be proven by their rapidly-growing customer base and the fact that a Google search produces little in the way of negative reviews. Ignition Poker is focused on penetrating the American market which is starting to flourish but they also welcome Australian players.
The player pool continues to increase in size and they offer a good selection of games and stake sizes. Cash players will want to try “Zone Poker” which features a 15-second shot clock that significantly speeds up the pace of play.
Another unique feature that Ignition Poker offers is the ability to play anonymously. Anonymous tables simply assign a number to players so that they are unrecognizable to others who are familiar with their playing style or have taken player notes. There are also some impressive graphics that players can change to their liking.
Ignition Poker has over $2 million in tournament prizes up for grabs every week and there are plenty of daily, weekly, and monthly tournaments that offer big prizes. Australian players will also be more than happy with the bonuses and promotions that are being offered.
Pokerdom is part of the Russian Commonwealth’s biggest poker network and is geared toward the Russian market. However, Australian players who want to play at a site that is dedicated to fair play by banning third-party poker aids and bots will want to check out Pokerdom. On top of offering their customers a safe and fun poker experience, Pokerdom also has some great bonuses and promotions to offer their customers.
One of the promotions that is currently running is the Big Game through which cash players can compete for a piece of the RUB 5 million that is there for the taking. Players earn points when they play Hold’em, Omaha, Chinese Poker or Exotica and top point producers are rewarded with cash. Players can also take advantage of their cashback program in which they are refunded up to 50% of the total rake they have paid.
Players will be impressed with the array of popular instant payment methods and easy withdrawal options while those who prefer playing micro-stakes games have a lot of choices in both cash game and tournament formats. On top of standard games like Hold’em and Omaha, Pokerdom also has Razz, 32-Card Draw, Badugi, and 6 Plus Hold’em.
If you are an Australian online poker fanatic who prefers the anonymity and convenience of using Bitcoin will want to seriously consider having your next poker session at Nitrogen Sports. Since being established in 2013, Nitrogen Sports has become one of the leading crypto gambling sites in the world. Their poker room is quite unique in that they believe that playing poker using your browser will phase out downloadable poker platforms. Nitrogen Sports Poker is easy to navigate and is ideal for beginners who don’t care about advanced options.
Currently, the player pool is smaller than a lot of other sites but it is growing. Seasoned players will like that they can find soft competition and the stakes are fairly low. Nitrogen Sports Poker claims that their attractive 4% rake is the lowest of any other Bitcoin poker site and their rakeback program allows players to claim anywhere from 10% up to 40% of their rake.
One area where Nitrogen Sports Poker excels is their mobile platform which allows players to do everything that they need to do. It is pleasantly easy to look at and very quick to respond. It is also worth mentioning that Nitrogen Sports has a very extensive sportsbook and they have promotions running regularly.
Who knows what the future holds for online poker in Australia? There is no doubt that the government is missing out on vast sums of money under the newly-implemented regime. Because governments don’t like to pass up the opportunity to find new sources of revenue to fatten their shrinking coffers, it is quite possible that their firm anti-online poker stance will soften in the future.
Until the day when the Australian government revisits the idea of legalizing online poker, Australian poker players still have plenty of options available. There are more than enough reputable online poker sites above and beyond the aforementioned poker sites where they can play without being interfered with. Juicy Stakes, Grand Poker, and SwC Poker are just a few of the many great poker sites that compliment any list of poker sites that accept Australian players.
You must be diligent when choosing an offshore poker site. Always be sure that the site you are considering playing at is properly licensed and regulated. While most online poker sites have some very attractive bonus offers, don’t let them be the sole reason for choosing a particular site. Be sure to read some of the objective and unbiased reviews that are so plentiful on the internet before committing real money. Consider how many active players a site has along with the variety of games and stakes.
Taking these basic steps will go a long way in enhancing your poker experience. Most importantly, have fun and play within your limits.