Australian Online Casino Exodus – Who Leaves and Who Stays?
Published on by Adam
In November of 2016, Hon. Alan Tudge, MP and Federal Minister for Human Services proposed the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill (IGA Amendment Bill) that is meant to amend Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. Since then, the House of Representatives has decided to move forward with the suggested amendments. Even though the official date when such changes would come into play is still moot, we’ve already been witnessing an exodus of online casinos that are leaving Australian players with less options for online gambling.
In just a few words, the government will require any interactive gambling service provider to be licensed and regulated in Australia. Otherwise, they will be prohibited from operating on Australian soil, which, if they fail to do so, will result in harsh penalties. The amendments suggest that the Federal regulator – the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will have complete control over regulation and enforcing the key objectives put forward.
Regulation, Prohibition, and Penalties
Section 15 of the Amendment Bill makes the distinction clear between ‘regulated interactive gambling services’ and ‘prohibited interactive gambling services’. This implies that the only operators who will be allowed to provide services for operators are those licensed and regulated by the Australian board, and only under the terms of their license. Previously, most of these service providers were not banned. Now, a new section in the amendment, known as section 8E, spares a list of providers who are fully regulated within Australian jurisdiction. Failing to comply with the new amendment and receive full regulation while still offering services in Australia will automatically result as criminal offence, entailing civil penalty.
Another new section – 15AA – states that intentionally providing interactive gambling services to players in Australia without first receiving a license from an Australian State or Territory will be harshly punished in a manner similar to that outlined in section 15.
As for the penalties themselves, both sections mentioned above state that for every additional day a contravention occurs, $4.5 million for a criminal offence and $6.75 million for a civil offence will be charged.
Casinos That are Up and Leaving
There’s been quite a few online casinos that have already exited the Australian market despite the amendment bill’s changes not having come into effect just yet. This drastic measure is not only a response to the change in laws outlining the idea that any operator without an Australian license will be prohibited, but also a response to the seemingly difficulty inherent in obtaining one, especially for offshore-based operators.
One of the most recent online casinos that has (temporarily) left the Australian market is Cashmio, which happened just this month. Just a month ago, Guts, Betspin, Rizk, Thrills, Kaboo, and SuperLenny announced that neither will they be taking Australian players for the foreseeable future.
These are just links in an ongoing chain of online casino operators that, over the past few months since the announcement of the IGA amendment bill, have joined this exodus. Right after the amendment bill had been put forward, Vera&John quickly pulled out.
One particular departure that shook the shook the Australian iGaming community was that of 888Poker – one of the biggest and oldest brands in the business. And now, it is believed that the next big brand to follow suit will be PokerStars, despite its efforts to comply with local regulatory practices stipulated up to date.
The phenomenon of countries closing their doors to operators other than those locally licensed seems to be a growing trend. The online operators that decide to remain end up painstakingly abiding by laws, which more often than not, take their toll on these businesses. And unfortunately, MPs, such as those in Australia favouring the amendment, are not showing any signs of leniency or compromise.
Casinos That Are Still Viable Resorts
To date, these are just a few of the casinos that are still taking in Australian players. The list is clearly not limited to only these. And please bear in mind that this list may change at any time.