The Australian gambling landscape is set to change in light of some amendments to the standing gambling law. The 11 total changes are cause for concern for several big online gambling providers, causing them to withdraw from the country. Offshore poker platforms appear to be taking the brunt of the changes. While this most immediately affects Aussie players, it could result in some unexpected benefits for American gamblers relying on legal offshore betting destinations for gambling entertainment.
Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act has been the standing legal precedent since 2001. There are many different online poker brands based in Australia, but the IGA bars Australians from using them. Residents have always been able to gamble with offshore providers as long as they are legally licensed and regulated, though a 2015 report on illegal gambling has suggested the government close off access to offshore options. The House of Representatives and Senate have approved the proposed changes and the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016 is set to be enacted.
So far, Vera & John and 888poker, both popular offshore brands offering services to Australia, have withdrawn from the Aussie market. PokerStars, one of the biggest online poker services in the world, is set to also exit the country after the revisions have been made. The Amaya-brand company has been servicing Australians for years, though the new amendments are stepping up the regulatory conditions to a point that are too much in the eyes of the poker site. Amaya’s CFO, Daniel Sebag, recently commented on the situation saying that it is “likely” they will block players from Australia starting 30 days after the bill’s enactment.
GIG Affiliates is another big-name online gambling provider choosing to leave the country. GIG has a host of online casino sites that Australians have grown to love. However, the company will now divert their usual Australian traffic to the House of Jack Casino, another band of Gaming Innovation Group.
While residents are set to miss out on action from sites they have grown accustomed to, it is the gambling providers themselves that are going to miss out on a regular source of profit to the tune of $18 million annually. Reports speculate that roughly 80% of citizens gamble an average of $1,000. Gambling companies are justifying their decision by moving their focus to other markets like the US and Portugal, which could be good news for American gamblers.
Not everyone is in support of the changes. David Ean Leyonhjehlm, a Senator for New South Wales with the Liberal Democratic Party, has been outright in his opposition to the new bill. Leyonhjehlm spoke of the popularity of the online market and how Australia is taking a step back in hindering residents’ access. Poker is still possible in brick-and-mortar venues in both single-game and tournament formats. The actual ramifications of the new bill are not scheduled to go into effect until sometime in July, giving Australians a small window of time to keep playing with their favorite poker sites. At the very least, they can begin withdrawing their winnings before they lose access to the site.