The Biggest Online Gaming Exodus Australia Has Ever Seen

In iGaming by on September 12, 2017

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What started back in 2001 has finally come to an end. Back in 2001, the Australian government started a 16 year long endeavor to put an end to online gaming. After a lot of back and forth discussions, what was just a bill in 2016, became law, signed and sealed.

The introduction of this bill bans all forms of online gaming, including but not limited to poker and live sports betting. We have several arguments to make in regards to this particular area. It’s unfair to put all games in the same basket. More about that later in this article.

Crash Course in the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016

For more than a decade, the Australia authorities have made attempts to come to a balance and provide both the operators and the players with acceptable and fair conditions. However, the operators’ greatest fears have become real. According to the bill, offshore online casino operators, and those who operate on the grounds of Australia are illegal.

The bill was primarily to target poker games and poker players, but things took a different course. Moreover, operators were hoping that the bill won’t get signed. August of 2017 marks the end of the online gaming market in Australia. Operators have argued that a tax reform targeting the operators would’ve been a better alternative than an all out ban on all activities. In addition, thousands of players will have to find a different hobby if there isn’t any change introduced to the Australian online gaming laws.

An Unexpected Twist of Events Put an End to the Glorious Australian Gaming Market

Online gaming has become practically illegal because there are no provisions for applying for an Australian online gaming license. Thus, if translated, it basically means there won’t be any legally available online casinos, poker operators, live sports betting operations to Aussie players.

Some of the biggest operators that we consider as industry pillars were eager to get a hold of such a license without any problems. After all, a great deal of their player share was located in Australia. They’d be doing themselves a favor by obtaining such a license. Nevertheless, unless the Government of Australia considers gaming taxes as a worthwhile tradeoff for future projects, Aussie players will have to look for excitement elsewhere.

The Biggest and The Best Have Already Left the Red Continent

This was expected at the very least. Big time companies like Vera&John, 888 and 32Red have already left the Red Continent. PokerStars has also announced it’s leaving Australia on the 15th of September. Many other casinos have added Australia to their lists of restricted territories, such as SlotsMillion. All licensed online casinos are going to leave the market sooner rather than later. We couldn’t find a timeframe in which the operators have to leave the market, or in other words, impose IP restrictions to Aussies.

Also, other members of the community, such as us or igaming.org for instance, have to stop all online gaming advertising targeting Australian players specifically. Otherwise, according to the bill, the entity will be contacted and sanctioned if necessary. This also applies to the operators. They must become invisible to the wider Australian audience. The body which will monitor these activities is the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The Bill Considers Poker as ANY OTHER Online Casino Game

The kicker that changed the course of this banning process was treating poker like any other casino game, including slots. If it wasn’t for this, many online casinos which have nothing to do with poker, such as SlotsMillion which has a prime objective of having the best and the most complete video slot collection.

Many experts have argued that poker is a skill based game, and cannot be put in the same basket with roulette, slots, baccarat or even blackjack. The Australian authorities refused to consider this as a valid point. We’re quite sure even you don’t consider poker and other table games even remotely related. PokerStars was well aware that it will have to leave the market, but it was hoping for a silver lining that maybe, just maybe, it could retain its customers and entertain them with slots or virtual table games.

Make Your Withdrawals by the 14th of September!

We recommend to make your withdrawals as soon as possible if you’re located in Australia. The sooner the better, because the more you wait, the more likely problems become. Authorities can impose additional restrictions on banks and other alternative payment providers, putting you in a rather unenviable position. This will not be the operator’s fault, this will be your fault if you fail to complete your withdrawals.

Most of the operators that are leaving the Australian market have already informed their players from down under about their withdrawal deadline. We should also point out that Australian players are given the priority during this period.

Efforts Are Made To Introduce Cashless Wagers

This is not a speculation. In a way, it’s a paradox and shouldn’t be even considered as a viable option. The government has given the “yellow light” for cashless gaming. In other words, players are to buy vouchers, prepaid cards, tokens or credits and enjoy their favorite pokies. This is so wrong. Allowing players to play in this manner creates the illusion that the play is playing with virtual money. This will stimulate unresposinble gambling and, as we view it, it will lead to promotion of underage gambling due to the anonymity it will introduce.

Will the Interactive Amendment Bill 2016 Start a Trend?

Hopefully, it will not, because it’s wrong on so many levels. The Australian Government has great examples of efficient online gaming markets like the UK, Sweden, Spain even Germany, which still operates with two regulators in the country. These off the shelf models could’ve turned the Australian online gaming market in its most efficient form, the one operators, the players and even the tax authority desired.

It’s highly unlikely that other governments will follow this bad example of poor and inefficient legislation.