This week, Australian customers of 888’s online poker brand 888poker began receiving emails alerting them that they would no longer be able to play on the site effective January 16. Specifically, the email states that “if you are a resident of Australia, your account is closed on 16 January. However, you’ll be able to get the money from your bankroll using our web cashier.”
Australia’s government announced last November that it was proceeding with plans to revamp its Interactive Gambling Act 2001. These plans will explicitly ban online poker and casino products, as well as online in-play sports betting.
The government intends to adopt domain- and payment-blocking measures against online operators who fail to comply with the new rules. Companies that flout the law will find themselves liable for fines of up to A$6.75m and their execs could be arrested if they physically enter Australian territory.
888’s exit was preceded by the Intertain Group’s online casino brand Vera&John, which announced shortly before Christmas that its Australian customer accounts would be closed by the end of 2016.
Amaya Gaming’s PokerStars brand has also strongly suggested an Australian exit is in the cards, but with Australia accounting for 2.5% of PokerStars’ overall revenue, the site appears intent on keeping the money flowing until the absolute last minute.
Australian poker players aren’t taking lightly the loss of their online options. A group calling itself the Australian Online Poker Alliance is directing players to an Australian Taxpayers’ Alliance automated form letter service to pressure local parliamentarians to reject the proposed gambling law changes.
UBET FINED FOR ILLEGAL INDUCEMENTS
In other Aussie online gambling news, Tatts Group’s wagering brand UBET has been fined A$2k by Liquor & Gaming New South Wales for offering illegal gambling inducements. The offence stems from a promo on UBET’s website last September offering punters up to $25 “money back” on National Football League futures bets.
NSW betting laws prohibit wagering licensees from running ads offering punters any inducement to participate in betting activity, including any inducement to open a betting account. This is the second time Liquor & Gaming NSW has found fault with UBET marketing, having spanked the company last June for a “punters academy’ commercial that the regulator claimed linked gambling with alcohol.