The Australian domain name Poker.com.au recently sold for the sum of $100,000, but according to an expert interviewed by SmartCompany.com.au, if it weren’t for the country’s legal environment, it would have gone for much more.
The Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 makes it illegal, among other things, to offer online gaming services to residents of Australia and advertise such services. Because of this, NetFleet’s David Lye told SmartCompany that $100,000 was nothing compared to what it could have been if online poker were completely legal. Lye has plenty of experience with domain name sales, as NetFleet is Australia’s largest domain name trading website, facilitating the aftermarket for .au websites.
Had the current laws not been in existence, Lye said, “Tou might see prices that were worth 10 times the amount. The legislation has obviously deflated the price.” Giving an example of the domain name’s potential, he added, “There is a Canadian equivalent, Poker.ca, that sold for $400,000 last year. Now, Canada has one-and-a-half times the population of Australia and that site commanded a price much, much higher.”
The purchaser of Poker.com.au was the online gambling giant 888 Holdings, operator of 888Poker. 888 has put a “Coming Soon” headline on its new acquisition along with the following message: “The Poker Guide that will change the way you think about poker, play poker, and even dream your hand in poker is coming soon with all the features that you’ll want and all the bonuses and special offers that you’re looking for. In the meantime, trust your luck with our rotating banner!”
The banner referred to in the message links visitors to 888Poker. Thus, it would appear that Poker.com.au is being used to advertise online gambling, but what the site will actually be used for remains to be seen.
888Poker draws the 14th most cash game traffic of any internet poker room or network according to industry monitor PokerScout.com. With 1,480 cash game players on average over the last seven days, it sits squarely between the French sites Winamax.fr (1,660 players) and EverestPoker.fr (1,260). The Ongame Network’s Italian offering, Ongame.it is listed just after 888Poker, but there are no traffic figures associated with the site at this time. For comparison, the largest online poker site in the world, PokerStars, has drawn 32,200 cash game players on average over the past seven days.
Australia’s Productivity Commission, a government independent research and advisory organization on many issues that affect Australian citizens, issued a report last June in which it recommended, “The Australian Government should amend the Interactive Gambling Act to permit the supply of online poker card games.”
According to SmartCompany, Senator Stephen Conroy said the government has no plans to heed the Productivity Commission’s suggestion: “The Australian Government does not agree with the Productivity Commission recommendation that the Australian Government amend the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 to allow for a liberalization of online gambling, starting with allowing the provision of online poker games to Australians. The existing rules will continue to apply.”
Last February, the domain name Poker.org was sold by National A1 Advertising for $1 million, besting the previous dot-org high mark set by Engineering.org – $198,000 – by more than five times. Poker.org was bought by PokerCompany.com, which refers to itself as a “super affiliate,” making its money by sending traffic to numerous online gambling sites, including those that offer poker and casino games.
Poker.com had previously been the home of a growing online poker room, but in 2007 the site’s management decided to move its virtual tables to Carbon Poker on the newly created Merge Gaming Network. It made the move so that its advertising at live poker events would be more effective. At many live tournaments, players are required to block out the dot-com of a gambling website name that they may be promoting on their clothing. Because of that, Poker.com looked like “Poker,” which does not resonate as a potential internet destination the way “Carbon Poker” does. After the move, Poker.com was turned into an internet poker affiliate site.