A subsidiary of Australia’s state-owned postal services firm has been accused of improperly earning millions of dollars by helping local punters fund accounts with prohibited international online gambling sites.
On Wednesday, The New Daily reported that its muckrakers had turned up evidence that POLi Payments Pty Ltd, an offshoot of the state-owned Australia Post, had booked $5m in revenue over the past 18 months by handling payments for international online casinos.
Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act (IGA) allows online sports betting by operators holding a local license, but online casino and poker products are officially verboten. Still, The New Daily reported that “hundreds” of international online casino sites recommended POLi Payments to Australian punters as a reliable method of funding their online casino play.
The report claimed many of the sites recommending POLi Payments explicitly targeted Aussie punters by offering bets in Australian currency, singling out Malta-licensed Lucky247.com, “a swathe of sites” linked to Digimedia Ltd as well as Roxypalace.com, which was acquired by UK operator 32Red last summer.
Australia Post acquired POLi Payments in October 2014 and a Post spokesman told The New Daily that the company was “comfortable that POLi is acting in accordance with the [IGA] and other applicable gaming laws,” based on the fact that POLi neither provides nor advertises any online gambling service.
However, the spokesman went on to say that the online casino industry was “not an area that we intend to operate in over the long term.” The spokesman noted that the $5m earned from processing online casino payments was a drop in the bucket compared to Australia Post’s annual revenue of $6b.
This isn’t the first time that POLi Payments has found itself embarrassed by its online gambling connections, having had to defend its business relationship with scam online betting site Betjack in the months leading up to the payment provider’s 2014 acquisition by Australia Post.
Reliably cranky gambling scold and Independent Sen. Nick Xenophon didn’t hesitate to turn his outrage amplifier to 11, saying he would be asking Australia Post for “an urgent explanation” of its online casino dealings, while chiding the state-owned firm for “contributing to the growth of gambling addiction.” Xenophon said Australia Post “need to get out of this business ASAP because it is toxic.”
Australia’s government is currently sitting on a review of the IGA, which is believed to include recommendations for ways to disrupt the ability of international online operators to conduct business with Australian gamblers.