The New Zealand TAB has become collateral damage in Australia’s war against unauthorized online gambling operators.
On Wednesday, Australia’s Interactive Gambling Amendment Act officially took effect, and thus any online gambling operator – and especially any online casino or poker site – taking wagers from Australian punters without a license is officially acting agin’ the law.
But while the Act’s enforcement bullseye was primarily aimed at Asian online betting operators drinking Australian-licensed operators’ milkshakes, the New Zealand Racing Board has discovered to its horror that its TAB online betting site had to close the accounts of its Australian customers.
The new rules also prevent Kiwis who happen to be traveling in Australia from accessing the NZ TAB’s website, although some customers have reportedly worked out a hack that permits access if punters use their mobile data on a roaming plan.
Local media quoted NZRB CEO John Allen saying the TAB has contacted each of its Australian customers to explain the current predicament. Allen said the TAB has about 800 Aussie customers who turn over around NZD 1m (US $721k) per year.
NZRB spokesperson Kate Richards said that the Board was originally under the impression that its TAB operations would be exempt from Australia’s new restrictions. By the time the Board and their Aussie counterparts realized the full scope of the Act, it was too late to do anything before the whip came down.
The NZRB is currently examining its options, including applying for an Australian sports betting license. In the meantime, the TAB is reassuring its domestic punters that the ban wouldn’t affect commingling pools.
New Zealand recently introduced its own legislative update that would impose new restrictions and costs on non-TAB operators looking to take action from Kiwi punters or offer betting markets on Kiwi racing and sports events.
While Australia’s new gambling laws barred any form of online poker, Liberal Democratic Senator David Leyonhjelm announced this week that the federal government may have had a change of heart regarding the activity.