Gambling Bill May Spell the End of Australian Online Gambling
There is bad news for online gamblers in Australia after the Senate passed the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 and effectively made online poker, bingo and casino play illegal in the country.
The bill was introduced in November by Australia’s Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge primarily as a way to clamp down on the country’s sports betting laws. Sports betting is legal in Australia but there are restrictions on in-play betting, it was allowed by telephone and not online. However, operators found a loophole in the law which allowed punters to make in-play bets on their smartphones.
The bill was intended to close that loophole but along with it online gambling in general was made illegal. The bill bans all forms of online gambling that are not explicitly legal. Only sports betting is explicitly legal, so casino, bingo and poker is now illegal.
It is now widely expected that a number of operators will pull out of the market. The bingo site Vera&John was the first to go in anticipation of the bill back in December and 888poker followed suit in January.
Furthermore, in November Amaya CFO Daniel Sebag said that PokerStars will probably also withdraw from Australia, “it would appear likely that if the legislation passes, we would block players from Australia.”
There is no way to acquire an online gambling license in Australia and operators that do not leave may face large fines. Furthermore, operators will want to avoid the fines as it could affect their chances of being granted a license in other jurisdictions. As a result it seems that online gambling is set for a sharp decline in Australia.