The Australian online gambling market has had a scare with the sudden announcement by popular Malta based gambling operator Vera&John that it will be pulling out of the country by the end of 2016. The Vera&John site was designed especially for Australian customers and it had achieved a fair amount of popularity in the market.
Customers of Vera&John received emails from the company saying that their accounts would cease to be operational within a week. The company apologised for pulling out of the market, saying however that the government had made it very difficult for it to continue operating in this jurisdiction. The company went on to inform its customers that it was no longer taking deposits with immediate effect and that they had up to a week to withdraw money from their accounts.
Gambling operators throughout the country have reacted negatively to the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 which was introduced in November. Vera&John has been the only company to stop its operations outright, chances are that other companies will also follow suit.
The online gambling industry in Australia is extremely well developed and there are hundreds of online casinos operating in it. Therefore Australians who still want to gamble will easily find any number of casinos that accept their country’s currency.
IGA Review Causes Panic in the Gambling Industry in Australia
The Australian government has recently okayed a number of recommendations that it considers necessary for managing its flourishing online gambling business. The existing law known as the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) 2001 was found to be woefully inadequate to deal with the complexities of the industry. In fact, the review of the law has been a lengthy and controversial process.
The Australian government intends to put strict controls on sports betting websites operating from abroad. It has especially targeted the live betting services offered by these gambling sites. The government has also turned its attention to online casinos and poker sites. It requires all Australia-facing sites to have a gambling license from the country. The amended bill has a provision to bar companies that do not have the necessary license from offering their services to Australians. Furthermore, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will now be empowered to fine any defaulters.
Northern Territory in Australia Offers a Way Out
One jurisdiction in Australia, Northern Territory, intends to promote the online gambling industry. It is willing to offer online gaming licenses to many online gaming operators. As a matter of fact, many large UK based operators have been able to enter this market. All thanks to the generous and convenient permits from NT.
PokerStars Planning Its Exit from Australia
Poker sites have been operating in the Australian market for a long time. This activity was never deemed illegal as such. However, poker operators anticipate many restrictions on their operations as a result of the IGA Amendment. PokerStars is the largest online poker operator in the world. They have said that it will be exiting the market. However, there is no specified date. The company has stated that it does not wish to operate in a grey market.
Interestingly, PokerStars hadn’t terminated its US operations. That being said, it was in violation of the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act (UIGEA). It’s clear to see from its stand in Australia that the poker giant doesn’t wish to tangle with the law. They will exit the market entirely. It’s important to note that the company will not be permitted to operate in the immensely lucrative New Jersey market. They need to stop dipping their toes into illegal waters.
It’s fair to say that the Australian online gambling market will continue to attract offshore operators. As long as it remains a grey area.