Can I play Mega Moolah from Australia?
There's no doubt that pokies are hugely popular in Australia, both in the real world and also online. Many Australians have benefitted from some big wins when playing these games and there have been several winners of the top prize on the Mega Moolah slot who have claimed their prize in Australian dollars.
However, all that changed following the passing into law of one of the most controversial pieces of legislation in the country's history. That bill was the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016, which was passed in August 2017.
What was the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016?
Although proposed by the government as a way to protect Australians from "losing money to illegal online casinos and other offshore gambling scammers", the effect of the bill is that it effectively prohibits any online casino, regardless of where they are based in the world, of offering a myriad of online gambling services, including slot games, to Australian customers.
Indeed, the only way a company can get around the ban is to apply to the Australian government for a specific license to operate within the country. Which is a lengthy and costly process with no guarantee of success at the end of it.
Unfortunately, what this new legislation has meant is that a number of providers, including Mega Moolah have been forced to stop offering Australian customers the opportunity to play the game.
So it seems that Australian players who enjoyed playing progressive pokies now have a far more limited choice of gambling opportunities that they can enjoy online. However, as many critics of the bill have pointed out, while the bill may have passed into law in August 2017, effectively policing the laws laid down by the bill, remain extremely difficult.
Why many Australian players are flouting the Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016
Aussie lawmakers may have moved to make many forms of online gambling illegal in the country in 2017, but what they have not yet fully understood is just how difficult it is to police a law when it comes to the Internet and the digital world.
As many other countries have found out when trying to ban access to parts of the Internet, it is an incredibly difficult place to police effectively, almost to the point of being impossible to enforce any rules a government may put in place regarding any aspect of the Internet.
Firstly, from the perspective of an Australian player, who may have previously enjoyed a few spins on games like Mega Moolah, while the ban may now be in place, there exists the technology (such as by using VPN software), where you can get around any country restrictions and potentially register to play at casinos that are operated in other countries. Another popular way to gamble is using bitcoin. Indeed, these are just two of many 'loopholes' players have been using to continue to play games online.
Now you may assume that the Australian government could then do something to penalise the companies that are offering these games online. However, seeing as these companies are based in countries outside of Australia, all legally, there is nothing that the Australian government can do.
Of course, they could try and enforce the ban on individuals, however trying to prove an individual has played these games, in contravention of the law, is extremely difficult, hugely time consuming and would come with a massive financial burden for every individual the government would wish to try and prosecute, with very little chance of success.
Could the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill actually have the opposite effect to what was intended?
The most vocal critics of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 have expressed their belief that far from helping Australian players wager more safely online, the bill will actually have the opposite effect and put more Australian players at risk.
They argue that by criminalising these games, this pushes Australian players into venturing into the more 'questionable' parts of the web to play them and as such, players are more likely to encounter fraudulent individuals or companies that will indeed seek to divest them from their cash.
Furthermore, the inability of the government and law enforcement officials to effectively police the legislation, in effect makes the legislation worthless, as it is relatively easy and inexpensive for the average Australian to get around it, should they so wish. Furthermore, even if they could police an individual, the chances of them gaining a successful prosecution would be very slim.
Indeed, if the bill was intended to reduce the likelihood of individuals suffering problems with online gambling, then in actual fact, it puts this small number of vulnerable people at greater risk, as these individuals will undoubtedly be among the Australians flouting the ban and perhaps using less than secure sites to gamble on. This in turn puts them at far greater risk of falling into bad gambling habits, or being at risk of being exploited by corrupt individuals or organisations, as opposed to using a site which has safeguards in place to help people with this serious problem.
So I can't play Mega Moolah in Australia anymore?
The move seems particularly draconian, akin to banning all forms of alcohol in a bid to stop people becoming alcoholics and as we have shown, it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible for the legislators and law enforcement officials to police effectively, even at individual level.
So while the likes of Microgaming will not be offering its games, including Mega Moolah, for Australian players as the law stands, the fact remains that Australians don't like to be told what they can and cannot do, and will continue to flout the ban, which does open them up to some potential problems.
Byline: This article was published by Mega Moolah expert Henry. Media and other enquiries.