It's worked so far. 888Poker took the hint and left the Australian market in January and PokerStars is inevitably following suit. The latest legislation requires poker sites to be licensed in the country in order to offer their services to Australian residents – except there is no licensing or regulatory process for online poker at this time.
Unites States Internet wagerers suffered a doomsday of sorts when the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006 was introduced. It didn't ban Internet betting per se, it just made it illegal for financial institutions to process payments from offshore companies associated with gambling. Prior to that, US bettors could wager directly from their checking account and the convenience to betting was unprecedented.
Of course sports bettors didn't go down without a fight. The books who did stay open to U.S players tried every possible method to accept the billions of dollars in U.S betting currency. Customers tried moneygrams or wire transfers or even pre-loaded gift cards but they were all quite the hassle both to pay and get paid – especially compared to the convenience enjoyed earlier.
Bitcoin – the Game Changer
It could be argued that betting in America has become easier than ever thanks to the advent of bitcoin. The digital currency means credit cards are no longer needed to fund a poker or sportsbook account. In fact, bitcoin isn't necessarily just an alternative – it's actually preferable because transactions are credit instantly not to mention anonymously.
For a while bitcoin betting was seen somewhat as a novelty as only bitcoin-centric sites such as Nitrogen Sports and SealsWithClubs accepted the crypto-currency. Now all the major players are bitcoin friendly including Bovada, BetOnline, Americas Cardroom, and 5Dimes just to name a few.
What This Means For Australian Bettors and Poker Players
Unlike the UIGEA Act of 2006 that crippled online sports betting and poker for U.S players, the recent Australian legislation may have little to no effect on the industry. In fact, it may even lead to an increase in wagering once people who had previously been unaware of the bitcoin learn more about the anonymous digital currency.
In fact bitcoin is arguably easier to attain in Australia than it is even in the United States. American bitcoin users need to create a digital wallet and then transfer funds from a credit card or bank account - and then transfer those funds into bitcoin. In Australia, a bitcoin can actually be purchased over-the-counter with cash. This means people can purchase the currency anonymously and conveniently and that the technology is readily available to those who might not even have a bank account or credit card.
If one institutions loss means the gain for another it's easy to see that bitcoin is reaping the benefits of Australia's latest legislation. Online bitcoin sports betting and poker rooms are set to advance at an unprecedented pace. It seems that the government is finally working with the people in mind...even if it was accidentally.