Specifically, the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act has been amended so that only licensed companies can offer online gambling to Australians.
Given that Australia only has sports betting licenses, 888poker and other poker/online casino sites will need to leave too before feeling the effects.
888 sent the following email to their former Australian customers:
“Following a business reevaluation, we’d like to inform you that 888poker’s services are not being offered to players residing in Australia and therefore your account will be closed as of 16/01/2017. You can still withdraw funds from your bankroll at any time using our web cashier. Please check your email for more information.”
Up until now, 888poker hasn’t violated any laws by operating in Australia because there were no anti-online gaming laws. But that will change now thanks to the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act amendment.
The government’s goal behind the law change is to make it tougher for offshore operators to offer services to Australians. Any company that continues to operate in the country will not only be subject to fines, but also risk their licenses with other jurisdictions.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has proposed penalties worth up to $A1.35 million (US$1 million) per day for any individual, and up to AU$6.75 ($5m) for companies that violate the new law.
The new regulations solve Australia’s problem of pushing out black-market operators. However, with no licensing system in place for online casinos and poker sites, they also prevent the country from capitalizing.
PokerStars is still operating in Australia. But Amaya CFO Daniel Sebag recently said that they too would leave the market if the amendment were enacted. Considering that this is the case, it won’t be long before we see PokerStars exit the marketplace too.
Despite serious fines in place, it’s possible that black-market operators will continue to operate in Australia and ignore the laws. Of course, the risk with this is always dealing with a non-reputable operator that will fold up and keep player funds.