- PokerStars is not the only online poker provider to have left the country’s market in recent weeks
- A new bill has been devised that will class unregulated poker as illegal, prompting many operators to take their services elsewhere
In April this year, Australia confirmed that it would be banning online credit betting across its country’s Internet gambling sites.
Now, online poker giant, PokerStars has announced to its Australian market that it will no longer be offering its services in the country as of mid-September this year. This news follows the approval of 2016’s Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill.
The firm has not yet given a date for its departure from the Australian market, but it has reassured the country’s poker players that their funds will be stored safely until then and can be withdrawn at any point. They are, however, being urged to do so sooner rather than later.
PokerStars is also asking its 130,000 users to open any unopened Stars Rewards Chests and to use up their remaining Star Coins and tournament tickets.
It is believed that the company will be leaving the Australian gambling market to comply with the country’s regulations, but that it would be keeping an eye out for any opportunities that may arise to re-enter it legally.
This move makes PokerStars the latest in a string of other exits from the market – including the likes of 888poker and 32Red – all of which have occurred because of the upcoming regulatory crackdown.
A changing market
The aforementioned Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 became known to Australia’s government in the latter months of last year, and it was supposedly designed as a revision of the country’s 2001 gambling law.
The amendments laid out under this new bill would see more clarity added in the section that defines what is and is not legal (in gambling terms) in Australia. The bill would also mean that unlicensed online gambling products and services, such as a poker, are defined as illegal.
Interestingly, though, neither the 2001 bill nor the 2016 revision includes information on how an interested operator might apply for a license.
The current climate
When this crackdown began and online poker providers first began to flee the Australian market, many international operators – including Ignition Poker and Intertops Poker – began to allow players in Australia to access their services and play poker on those sites instead.
Things are therefore moving fast, and at present, the new bill has been voted on in the Australian Parliament’s House of Representatives and is awaiting review, any final revisions, and the deciding vote.
For many months, many of Australia’s online poker players attempted to save the game from its impending ban. But last week, lawmakers in the Senate voted on the revised bill and it was revealed that poker would be included in the illegal games category after all.
The bill is expected to come into force in the next few weeks, but for PokerStars, it’s not all bad news; recent reports suggest that the operator makes more money from other ventures than poker, anyway.
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