The head of the Australian Poker Tour says the company will await regulatory approval from the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) before launching a cash satellite feature on its recently released APT App.
The APT announced in late March the launch of its new app, designed primarily to integrate with the company’s live event management console by providing rapid registration and tournament information to its registered player base. However, the APT also wants to include real money satellites into their live events via the app, with players able to deposit cash and buy into satellites, advertised as having an entry fee of $6 per satellite.
Details of the satellite feature have immediately raised questions around its legality, prompting the APT to delay launch while it seeks approval from the ACMA.
“We have put in a submission to [the ACMA] to show them how it all works and make sure they understand it all,” APT CEO David Miles told PokerMedia Australia.
Asked if he was comfortable with the inclusion of the satellite feature, Miles said, “I can only speak for myself but I am, some of our other shareholders aren’t, and that’s why we haven’t progressed any further with it at this stage while we wait for clarification from ACMA.
“I have also corresponded with the Department of Communications in Canberra but I’m waiting to hear back.
“We’ve received a legal opinion that there is a section in the Act which prescribes that what we are doing, just offering satellites, can be justified.”
The ACMA told PMA it is “aware of the APT App” and that it “continues to monitor movements in the online gambling market and will take action as necessary.”
According to Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act, prohibited interactive gambling services include any service provided in the course of carrying on a business using an internet carriage service, any other listed carriage service, a broadcasting service, any other content service or a datacasting service, and where:
- The game is played for money or anything else of value; and
- The game is a game of chance or of mixed chance and skill, and
- A customer of the service gives or agrees to give consideration to play or enter the game.
The APT is basing its push to run online satellites on a legal opinion that “due to the fact there is no monetary value attached to the app and in currency there are no fees or profits derived through such activities, this can be classified in the field of an interactive game and not fall within Section 5 of the Act.”
The opinion also cites Section 8BB of the Act which makes some exceptions for “a game of chance or mixed chance or skill where the game is conducted in connection with a competition for the promotion of trade.”
“That’s what we are doing, promoting our trade,” Miles told PMA. “The real event is the live event, not the ones on the app. The idea is that can cash in but you can’t cash out, you can only win your way into APT events.
“We don’t want to get anyone into trouble, we’re trying to do the right thing.”
Miles confirmed the satellite feature will be removed if regulatory authorities fail to give it the green light.
However, the APT will push ahead with launching all other features of the APT App once its live events resume, most likely starting in Brisbane in September. The APT is also hoping to reschedule its APT Sydney event, originally planned for early April before COVID-19 shut down licensed venues, to November 2020.
“The whole idea of the APT app is that it is integrated into our live event management console,” said Miles.
“We want all of our players to be registered on our app eventually, which will take a bit of time but will allow for self-registration and rapid registration into tournaments. It will provide QR codes and tickets with your seat number to streamline the whole process.
“The app will also hold all the information of the event you are playing – blind levels, structures, live streaming where available, all our news, plus a list of chips counts and placings, so it is basically your whole one-stop tournament shop for live poker. It’s just a very efficient way for running tournament poker.
“The app can also provide other services – it has links to hotels and travel, hire cars and taxis. In time, we want to integrate those things into the app.”