Australia’s online poker community is gearing up for the fight of their lives and Australian Online Poker Alliance is leading the charge.

The grassroots organization, which tracks its origin to a thread on the TwoPlusTwo poker forum, is engaging in a range of civic activism including an online petition. They’re also using their website to help direct their supporters to their local elected officials.

While it’s unclear exactly how much support the AOPA has, it’s pretty clear that they’ve got a tremendous fight on their hands.

Australia’s Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, recently introduced a bill to Parliament that was aimed at snuffing out in-play sports betting and unlicensed gambling operators. In the wake of the bill’s introduction, several big-time international operators, including 888poker, pulled out of the Australian market. Like most international, and above board, operators, 888 is loathe to operate in a grey market once regulators begin stringently enforcing anti-gambling laws.

The AOPA’s answer to Tudge’s legislation, and their message to lawmakers, is that online poker is being unfairly lumped in with a perfectly legitimate in-play sports betting ban. The group also wants lawmakers to know that poker players who play in a regulated market are offered a great deal more protection than those who wind up playing on black market sites.

Australian online poker players are also angry at the aspect of losing the game they love. AOPA media spokesman Joseph Del Duca says that support goes far deeper than just a few hardcore grinders:

The support has ranged from people of all ages from right across the country. It just shows that poker is truly a game which can be enjoyed by everyone. This is why we are fighting so hard to keep it.

While it’s far too early in the game to speculate on how much support the AOPA has, there is a precedent for their action, the Poker Players Alliance in the United Stats. This group, which isn’t quite as grassroots as the AOPA has proven to be an effective lobbying force in Washington that has kept anti-gambling laws like the Restore America’s Wire Act (RAWA) off the books.

Whether the AOPA will have similar success remains to be seen.

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