Online poker operator PokerStars warned earlier this year that political moves in Australia to ban online poker and casino gambling could compel the company to leave the local market (see previous InfoPowa reports), and it appears that the day has come.
In emails to players last week the market leader confirmed that following the 9th August passage of the federal Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill in the Senate the company has been left with no option but to begin preparing for its real-money play exit, following companies like Party Poker and 888Poker.
The PokerStars email advises:
“The Australian parliament on August 9 passed the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill (2016) effectively banning all online gambling sites that are not locally licensed under Australian State or Territory law.
“We’ve been aware of this day coming and have done our best to keep you informed, but we can confirm that we’ll be closing our real money poker tables to players in Australia, most likely around mid-September. We will contact you as soon as a firm date is confirmed.
“Your funds are, and will continue to be, safe and available for withdrawal. Remember to open any unopened Stars Rewards Chests you have, and you can continue to spend your StarsCoin in the Rewards Store. A $1 Cash Rebate has been added to facilitate converting your StarsCoin to cash. Any tournament tickets and tournament money will be converted to cash for withdrawal, effective from the market exit date. We have provided a FAQ page here.
“We’re proud to have seen the Australian poker community grow so strong over the last decade. We do respect the Australian Government’s decision in taking steps to protect consumers and hope that in time we’ll be able to serve real money poker to you again. In the meantime, we will continue to offer play money poker and we hope to continue to welcome many Australian players to our tables.
“We’d also like to thank the Australian Online Poker Alliance for their campaigning on behalf of the game and suggest that you consider lending them your voice if you’d like to see a regulated return of online poker to Australia.”
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill now awaits only the governor’s Royal Assent signature, and becomes active within 28 days of that happening. Assuming that the bill will be signed into law without undue delay, that means its provisions will come into force around mid-late September.