Australian bill amendments may force poker sites to exit market

21 November 2016

Some of the world’s biggest online poker operators say they could be forced to withdraw their services from Australia should new legislation come into effect.

Introduced earlier this month, the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, which is an amendment to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, would require online gaming brands to acquire local licences in the country or face heavy fines.

The changes would grant the Australian Communications and Media Authority the power to issue civil penalties, without the need to involve the Australian Federal Police.

Operators that take bets from punters in the country without a local licence will be deemed to have broken the law, with individuals to face fines of up to A$1.35 million (€932,880/US$992,000) per day, while companies could be charged as much as A$6.75 million.

Amaya, the parent company of major online poker operator PokerStars, has hit out at the proposed changes, with chief financial officer Daniel Sebag stating in a call with investors last week that the brand could halt operations in the country due to the new legislation.

“In Australia, we currently offer poker and are reviewing the applicability of proposed legislation to player-versus-player games of skill,” Sebag said.

“At this time, it would appear likely that if the legislation passes, we would block players from Australia, as we do not offer casino sportsbook in Australia.”

PartyPoker and 888Poker are also reported to have said that they will exit the market should the new legislation come into effect.

Related article: Australia introduces new online gambling legislation