Online poker operator partypoker today confirmed its exit from the Australian online gambling market, shortly after the Commonwealth’s Senate approved a bill that prohibits the provision of unlicensed iGaming services to Australian players.
The poker brand said in a post on its official blog that it will no longer be accepting local gambling customers as from August 31, 2017. It also informed players that their funds are and will be safe and that they will be able to withdraw them at a time they find fit.
Tom Waters, Managing Director of the online poker operator pointed out that being one of their strong markets, they are saddened to leave. Mr. Waters also said that they will continue working with the Australian Online Poker Alliance in its efforts to convince the nation’s government to spare the game from the overall ban.
partypoker has become the first major gambling brand to leave Australia after the August 9 approval of the proposed changes to the nation’s online gambling laws. Days after the Senate voted on the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill, PokerStars, another major operator with gray market presence in Australia, announced that its official departure is likely to take place in mid-September. The company is yet to confirm an exact date when this is going to happen.
Meanwhile, as reported by Casino News Daily last week, the amendment bill has received a Royal Assent, which means that it is now ready to take effect as a law.
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill was introduced last fall by Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge. The legislative piece basically prohibits online casino games and poker to be offered to Australian players, unless operators are not licensed locally. However, Australia does not have a proper system to issue licenses to interested gambling brands. This means that currently there is no legal option for international operators to service Australian players.
Aside from partypoker and PokerStars, there are a number of major operators to have already left the market even prior to the Senate vote, with some of those being Vera&John, 888poker, Gaming Innovation Group, and 32Red.
partypoker and Czech Republic Exit
The GVC Holdings-owned operator left another newly regulated market earlier this year. In February, the brand announced that it would temporarily suspend its operations in the Czech Republic while waiting for a license from the country’s Ministry of Finance.
The Czech Republic’s new gambling laws took effect on January 1, 2017, thus opening the local market to international licensed operations. However, a too high tax rate and unnecessary bureaucracy drove major operators away. Although partypoker and its parent company GVC had originally expressed interest in obtaining an iGaming license, they later on announced that they had decided to withdraw their application due to the current regulatory environment in the Czech Republic.