While the States of America recently went through elections – some of which had to do with gaming in the different states – many countries around the world have also taken a different tack with regards to poker. While those in the U. S. may believe that they have the market cornered on “misery” regarding the state of the game, a quick look around the world will reveal that there are spots where it is worse.
China Continues Crackdown on Poker in Country
In the past, China was a country who seemed to be allowing gaming and poker to thrive. The island gaming mecca of Macau has become one of the top gambling destinations for high stakes play, topping the venerable Las Vegas in the amount wagered. Of late, however, the Chinese government has been cracking down on gaming, especially that performed online.
Most recently, the Chinese government has banned several poker applications from access to the largest population in the world (over one billion people). These apps, from such businesses as Poker King, Poker Tribe and several others, have been targeted to prevent Chinese citizens from being able to access them. These are all apps that emanate from outside the country and follows up on a ban earlier this year that targeted those poker apps that were created by companies inside the People’s Republic of China.
In the past, the Chinese government has cracked down on gambling and poker in other manners. Back in 2015, a Chinese police task force shut down an Asia/Pacific Poker Tour event in Najning, China, and there have been several crackdowns in Macau for “high rollers,” including putting severe limits on ATM withdrawals and other activities. The World Poker Tour is owned by a Chinese company and, to this point, has yet to be affected by the continued attacks from the Chinese government.
Israel Slowly Changing?
The story might be a bit different in the nation of Israel. The country, long with a ban on casinos and gambling, has not exactly enforced these laws in the past. This has allowed for a strong underground poker market to thrive and, as evident by the success of Israeli poker players on the international stage, continue to bring new players to the game. If a member of the Israeli government has their way, however, this will change in the near future.
Reports from the Jerusalem Post have indicated that a member of the Knesset, the legislative body of Israel (think along the lines of the States of America’s Congress), named Sharren Haskel has introduced a bill that would officially remove the “gambling” stigma from poker and make it legal throughout the nation. The proposed law would see the Israeli Poker Players Association become the governing body of the sport in the nation and would serve as the organizer of any events in the country.
So why the change? As they say, “follow the money.” It could be the very fact that currently the Israeli government receives no money for the gaming activity that is going on. A couple of years ago, the Israeli government filed lawsuits against players stating that they weren’t paying their proper amount in taxes. If the Israeli government was to legalize poker in the country, it would then be able to tax winnings at the proper rate and ENSURE that they were getting the money (it would be likely as, much as in the U. S., the taxes would be removed before a player would be paid).
Australia Online Gaming Ban – No Concrete Evidence of Success
In Australia, the major advocacy group for online poker players has stated that the crackdown by the Aussie government on internet gaming has had little to no effect on the activity. This contention comes after rather glowing reports from the Australian government that it is “controlling” online gaming in the country.
According to Joseph Del Duca, the founder and leader of the Australian Online Poker Alliance, reports of the success of the Aussie crackdown by the Australian Communications and Media Authority are incorrect. Those reports state that “33 prominent offshore wagering sites…have gone out of circulation.” Del Duca counters that players in the country haven’t quit playing, they have simply shifted to unregulated sites that operate in the country against Australian law. Del Duca states that not only are people playing on these unregulated sites, there are even more in operation for Australian customers than there was previously.
The regulations in Australia were implemented in 2016 in a sweeping measure to eliminate offshore gaming operators. By forcing anyone who wanted to service Australian players to obtain a license, Aussie regulators were able to force out several major online poker operations like PokerStars and 888Poker. While it has been a couple of years since this law was passed, it is still unclear – even after the statements from the Australian Communications and Media Authority – whether it has truly had an effect regarding online gaming and poker in the nation.