The Australian Senate this week passed a bill that would place a nationwide ban on the provision of online casino and poker services. The vote from the upper house, approving a modified version of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, came despite opposition from many local players.
The bill has been in motion since the fall of 2016 when Human Services Minister Alan Tudge decided the ban on offshore internet gaming sites would best protect consumers in Australia. With the passage of the bill this week through the upper house of Parliament, the gambling reforms are set to take effect within the next 30 days.
Australians have had notice of the ban, with some sites exiting the market months ago in anticipation of the bill becoming law.
Online poker operators catered to Australian players for many years under an ambiguous law called the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. The holes in the bill prevented the government from effectively enforcing it, and operators were able to find easy loopholes through which to continue doing business in the lucrative market.
Not long after the bill was introduced in Parliament, PokerStars informed its players that it may have to leave the market. Then-CFO of Amaya, Daniel Sebag, spoke to the issue in a November 2016 phone conference by saying the company was reviewing the legislation. “At this time, it would appear likely that if the legislation passes, we would block players from Australia,” he said.”
At the start of 2017, 888poker went a step further. Australian players received an email on January 13 to notify them that the site would no longer be available in that market as of January 16. “Following a business reevaluation, we’d like to inform you that 888poker’s services are not being offered to players residing in Australia,” the message read, “and therefore, your account will be closed 16/01/2017.”