Wed, Mar 22, 1:34pm by Staff Writer
Pokerstars has indicated it intends to proceed with its withdrawal from the Australia market, but will wait until full implementation of the newly-enacted Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill before pulling the plug.
IGAB passed through the Senate on Tuesday, and will implement stiff penalties for any overseas unlicensed gambling operations, including online poker and online casinos.
The Bill effectively closed a loophole in the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act which allowed overseas operators to target Australian customers, so long as they were licensed in their own jurisdiction.
The 2001 Act was so ineffective that there was not one successful prosecution under its laws, but the 2016/17 amendment is much tighter with the Australian Communications and Media Authority empowered to impose civil penalties which could range from warnings to fines to court injunctions for those who are not licensed in Australia.
There is currently no licensing for online poker companies or online casinos in Australia.
The new legislation has certainly concerned Amaya, Pokerstars owners, who revealed late last year that they would withdraw from the Australian market should the Bill pass.
While Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm attempted to add in an amendment which would exempt online poker, he later withdrew his support of the Bill, but promised to look at adding an exemption in the future.
Amaya released a statement saying they would operate in Australia until the law was fully implemented.
“Amaya continuously monitors the regulatory environments of the countries in which it operates, and where a regulatory model exists always seek to comply with it,” the statement read.
“While Amaya currently offers poker to Australian customers through PokerStars under its Isle of Man global gaming license, if proposed legislation passes into law players located in Australia would likely be blocked from playing on our sites.”
“Australian players will be able to continue to log in or play until we withdraw – and we will give clear guidance direct to our players on when that will happen. Our players remain a priority, and their funds will, as always, remain secure and accessible for withdrawal.”
“We have serviced the Australian poker community for many years, and although it will come as scant consolation for some real money players living there, should the bill pass we will continue to offer free to play products within the jurisdiction. We remain dedicated to growing the game of poker.”
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