PokerStars Say Goodbye to AustraliaThursday, Oct 5, 2017 14:54
September 10th will always be remembered as a dark day for online poker and casino games ‘Down Under’. At midnight, the new laws introduced under Interactive Gambling Amendment Act came into effect and effectively ended online gambling in the region. As the provision of poker and online casino from overseas providers became illegal PokerStars were one of the last operators to power down their servers and say goodbye to Australia for good.
PokerStars Leaves Australia
It’s been known for some time now that PokerStars would be leaving the Australian market. In mid-August, only days after the Australian Senate officially passed the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 the company announced that it would be pulling the plug on its Australian operation. However, unlike online bingo operator Vera & John who were first to leave the region in December 2016, 888casino in January, 32Red in April and PokerParty and in August PokerStars stuck it out until the bitter end. The Bill, which came into effect at midnight on Sunday the 10th of September, spelled the end for PokerStars in Australia but the company bowed out in a fittingly gracious fashion, thanking their Australian users for their support over the last decade.
“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.”
It’s believed that PokerStars stayed in Australia until the very end in the hope that the law would be changed at the last moment. The new laws have been criticized by many including Aussie Senator David Leyonhjelm of the Liberal Democrats. Leyonhielm, who has been described as the ‘Bernie Sanders of Australia’, was a vocal opponent of the Bill believing it is “nanny state legislation” and results in “a reduction in liberty”. It’s also been speculated PokerStars stayed in Australian until the very end as a ploy to keep WCOOP attendance up, the tournament runs for the month of September. Whatever the reason in the end the company were forced to fold and leave the Australian table.
Mass Exodus from the Australian Market
The mass exodus of online casino and poker operators from the Australian market won’t just affect Aussie players. The Australian market has been always been a profitable destination and this reduction in revenue will impact other players around the globe. PokerStars will be affected more than most as their daily and monthly poker tournaments are global events. Players will no longer be able to have a have a chat with their Australian mates as they play a hand and the player pool who brought so much fun and money to tables will be greatly reduced.
Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016
In mid-August, the Australian Senate officially passed the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016. The Bill introduced new, stricter gambling laws which require all online gambling brands in Australia to hold a local gaming license. Any operators who take bets without a local license will liable for fines of up to A$1.35 million per day with companies potentially being charged as much as A$6.75 million for breaking the new rules. The Bill has been designed to tackle the growing issue of problem gambling in the region. In 2016, Australians betted more per capita than any other nation in the world and a ban on overseas operators providing online casino and poker was deemed to be the best solution to combating the problem.
PokerStars is the world’s most popular destination for online poker. The company boasts an estimated two-thirds of the online poker market and have over 15,000 players playing with real money each day. PokerStars is famous for its fantastic poker tournaments which are held every day on the site and attract some of the world’s best online players. The company also hosts the two biggest online poker tournaments in the world, the World Championship of Online Poker (WCOOP) and the Spring Championship of Online Poker (SCOOP).