Poker has been booming in Australia since 2005 when Joe Hachem became the first Aussie to win the WSOP Main Event, the live circuit has been growing – and more and more Australians have been signing up to play online.
In this guide to Australian poker sites I have looked at the legal position of online poker in Australia and how it impacts you as a player. Next, you’ll find a rundown of the best online poker sites allowing Australian players. I have then covered the Australian deposit methods, allowing you to get your cash online to play. Most online poker sites operate in currencies other than the AUD so I have explained how this will affect you.
An individual in Australia is not breaking any laws playing poker (or any form of gambling) over the internet. When passing the Interactive Gaming Act in 2001, the Australian government restricted what locally based gambling operators could offer, and made it illegal for sites outside of Australia to offer gambling too.
No Aussie operators offer their games to Australian citizens any more, and the limited legal jurisdiction of this country does not affect the offshore sites. With no attempt to enforce these laws ever made, a status-quo has been reached with many international operators willing to accept deposits from Aussie players. Since no individual is breaking the law, the players themselves can feel relaxed about enjoying online poker at the international sites.
With Liberal politicians openly voicing an opposition against online gambling, concerns were high that after the Liberal-National coalition were voted into power in 2013 a crackdown against online poker would occur. This has yet to happen and there appears to be no rush to enforce the law against the offshore poker sites. If you are at all concerned, my recommendation would be only to play on reputable poker sites and keep the minimum amount of money you need online.
All of the major poker sites are available to Australian players. The Merge Network, which is owned by an Australian based group is the only mid-sized network which does not allow Australians.
My top pick has to be 888 Poker, where you will find none other than Shane Warne as ambassador. This aside, 888 have been growing rapidly recently and are now an established top 4 site with a big focus on recreational gamblers rather than the ‘pro grinders’. They will even give you $8, no-strings attached, to check out the games.
PokerStars are the biggest site worldwide and the most popular among Australian players. This site is linked with Full Tilt too, and you can switch your bankroll between them. The choice of games is simply amazing, with the biggest tournaments online and a mind-blowing selection of cash games to choose from.
Finally, the iPoker Network have their fair share of fans from down-under. This site is made up of sports-betting brands like Bet365 and William Hill. They pool their players on a common back-end to offer a massive choice of poker games and bigger promos. The iPoker network is famously soft, and I recommend you check their tables out for yourself.
By far the easiest and quickest way to deposit money online is with a credit or debit card. Depositing with a card is similar to making any other online purchase. Most sites accept Visa, MasterCard, Amex and Diners Club. Declines are rare enough for credit cards, though if your bank does decline, Debit Cards have a very high acceptance rate.
Especially if you intend on moving money between sites, an eWallet such as Neteller, Skrill or Poli make a great deposit option. These are secure intermediaries between your bank and the poker rooms – and let you move fast to take advantage of bonus or promotional offers. Charges are small, though they vary a lot – my recommendation is Skrill, whose charges are very low.
You can also send funds from money transfer sites such as Western Union, or using good old fashioned bank-wires. Both methods are useful if you wish to deposit large amounts.
You will find no present online poker site lets you play in AUD, most conduct their games in USD and some in EUR. Some sites might ask which currency you would prefer them to hold your money in when you deposit. However most will simply convert your cash straight to USD at the current rate, and keep it in this currency until you withdraw. You may experience swings in the exchange rate, though these are rarely big enough to be noticed by anyone except for the high-rollers.
If you are a poker player in Australia you have a wide range of reputable poker sites to choose from and getting money online is still relatively easy.
Despite periodic calls from politicians to regulate (or ban) online gambling, no one has shown any interest in enforcing the legislation already in place to stop online sites. Playing online is not illegal so you are perfectly safe provided you pick a reputable site.