Online gambling operators have been increasingly worried regarding the viability of their Australian operations. This is because certain changes are being made to gambling laws in the country. In fact, there have been growing rumblings about the unsuitability of the amended laws.
Many operators are giving indications that they will terminate their services here. 888Poker is a leading online poker site. It’s the second largest in the world. It recently suspended all its operations in the country without any warning whatsoever.
The Decision by 888Poker
The decision by 888Poker to pull the plug on its Australian operations did come as a surprise. But the industry was bracing for trouble as a result of the new gambling laws. Lawmakers recently approved the highly contentious Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016. It is expected to come into effect within a couple of months at the very least. It will become law once the country’s parliament ratifies it. Australia’s parliament is not in session right now but it will reconvene next month.
According to the new law, any type of online gambling that hasn’t been specifically sanctioned will be considered illegal. Therefore, sports betting has specific permission to be offered online. But the same cannot be said for casino games and poker on the internet. These gambling verticals occupy a grey area as of now but pretty soon they will be absolutely illegal. Furthermore, only those operators who already have a license in Australia will be able to offer their services to this market. Companies that continue to operate illegal gambling sites will have to pay huge fines amounting to multi-millions of dollars.
Vera&John to Follow in the Footsteps of 888Poker
Malta based online slots site Vera&John will also be stopping its services in Australia without waiting for the amended laws to be ratified. In fact, PokerStars will also be winding down its business here soon. Other sites will also have to shut shop eventually. But they have chosen to keep on running so that they can keep earning revenues.
The question still remains why 888Poker opted to stop its profitable Australian operations right now. After all, the site has built an impressive presence in the country. In fact, it had even roped in cricketing legend Shane Warne to be its public face. Customers of the site were taken completely aback when they were denied access to their accounts as of the 16th of the month. The company assured them that they would be able to withdraw their funds from their bankrolls without any problems. The company also emailed its customers with all relevant information but with emphasis on the cancellation of tournaments.
Gambling Operators Like 888Poker to Not Defy the Law
It’s very unlikely that major gambling operators will defy the law since they have a lot to lose. The penalty of AUD $6.75 million every day is daunting enough. But many operators don’t want to jeopardise their businesses in other jurisdictions. They stand to lose their licenses in New Jersey, for instance, if they get into legal trouble in Australia.
Australia has clearly amended its laws to make it difficult for offshore operators to offer their services to its citizens. Needless to say, many Australians are absolutely unhappy with this development. The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 is most certainly going to become law this year. It is only a matter of time before all the major poker and casino operators suspend their operations here.
The country’s gambling environment will become pretty much like that of the United States. Players will have to play at lesser known sites that the authorities can’t keep track of. In other words, people who enjoy playing poker online will end up going to illegally run sites. This is because all the reputed ones have been driven out of the country.