888poker to Quit Australia on January 16th

Last year, Australia announced its Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill which recommended various improvements to its outdated Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. Amongst the slew of measures it suggested was the barring of any gambling operators not in receipt of an official licence, with the country’s Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) subsequently granted new powers to hit those firms not complying with huge civil penalties.
In fact, those operators that are judged to have contravened the law could be hit with fines as high as A$6.75 million per day, while individuals are not immune from penalties, either, and could also face a massive fine of A$1.35 million per day.
Although the amendments have yet to be adopted, the past few weeks has still seen international online casinos companies starting to withdraw their products from Australia. At the end of 2016, for instance, the Malta based company Vera&John became the first major player to pull out of Australia, with the latest casualty now being the world’s second most popular poker site, 888poker. The brand has subsequently sent an email to its Australian customers warning them that from January 16th they will no longer be able play on the site. As an extract from 888poker’s email states:
“If you are a resident of Australia, your account is closed on 16/01/2017. However, you’ll be able to get the money from your bankroll using our web cashier.”
In the meantime, PokerStars has been outspoken in its criticism of the proposed changes, and has continued to operate in the Australian market, although analysts believe it, too, will soon make an exit. Afterall, the world’s biggest poker room learnt a costly lesson after falling foul of the USA’s UIGEA of 2006, and subsequently being hit with a huge fine of $731 million, which also included gaining Full Tilt Poker’s assets.
Losing access to the Australian market will come as a blow to many international gambling companies, as the country is one of the richest in the world with an average GDP of $44,073,81 per person. Furthermore, Australians are amongst the world’s biggest gamblers, and between 2014 and 2015 the country’s citizens lost a combined $23 billion gambling.

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