PokerStars could be pulling out of the lucrative Australian gambling market as soon as this week if a new bill cracking down on grey market operators passes into law.

The proposed measure, an amendment to the Interactive Gambling Act of 2011 (IGA), would close loopholes that allowed PokerStars, and other major operators, to operate in the Australian market with limited regulatory oversight.

IGA 2016 clearly bans online casino and poker sites in language reading:

Prohibited services under the IGA include online casino-style gaming services of chance or mixed skill and chance, such as blackjack, roulette and poker, which are played for money or anything else of value. Wagering and lotteries are permitted under limited circumstances.

That particular paragraph is designed to start bringing order to an Australian online gambling market that’s been riddled with massive loopholes for years. A failure to specifically ban overseas operators in the 2001 bill gave way to massive grey market activity from some of the biggest names in the online gambling industry, including PokerStars and William Hill.

Australian lawmakers have been under pressure to tighten up those loopholes and the 2016 IGA amendments, if passed, would do just that.

Word of the potential pullout came from Amaya Gaming CFO Daniel Sebag during a conference call to investors. Sebag said that his company is currently in compliance with Australian gaming laws and would comply with any changes in the future, even if that meant blocking Australian players entirely.

Amaya, like most mainstream operators, is keen to avoid any association with grey markets in countries where this type of activity is expressly forbidden.

Besides violating its responsibilities to follow the written law as a good corporate citizen, the company could also find itself blocked from other regulated markets if it were to illegally participate in grey market activity.

Currently, the Australian poker market accounts for just 2.5 percent of PokerStars’ total revenue.


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