As small as the island itself is, Gibraltar is one of the largest hubs for online gambling operators. The Gibraltar Remote Gambling Licensing Authority is responsible for licensing these operators, and overseeing their business practices to ensure legal compliance. As such, it wasn’t surprising when reports surfaced, indicating the regulator wants its AU online betting operators (who haven’t already) to prep for an Australian exodus.
There are big changes on the horizon regarding Australia online gambling laws. Parliament is poised to pass a bill that will force international operators out of the country, unless they obtain a license to operate.
Because current AU online betting laws don’t permit internet-based casino or poker games, all operators who conduct these services will be legally obligated to exit the market. It doesn’t mean that they will all comply with the new law, if and when it passes, but the vast majority of them will, if only to protect their licenses in other jurisdictions.
Several major online casino and poker operators have already moved to pull services from Australia. 888, 32Red and Vera&John are no longer available to Aussies. Last week, Gibraltar-based Betreels Casino joined them, and PokerStars has already indicated its intention to leave once the new Australia online gambling laws are in effect.
AU Online Betting Sites Told To Get Ready
According to a recent email that went out to all Betreels affiliates, regulators in Gibraltar are urging their licensees to comply with the laws of Australia – both current and future. They have advised their online casino and poker operators to prepare for an inevitable exit.
An excerpt from that email reads:
“…in anticipation of changes in the gaming regulations in Australia, the Gibraltar gaming regulator has requested that we stop accepting players from Australia.”
The request to operators was confirmed by Gibraltar Gambling Commissioner, Phil Brear, in a statement to GamblingCompliance.
He said that all operators had been instructed to demonstrate that they had “clear coherent advice” – and “not from corporate counsel” – regarding their rights to provide AU online betting services.
Timeline for Australia Online Gambling Laws
Parliament will begin its new session just weeks from now, on May 9. There’s no doubt the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill (2016) will be high on the priority list of legislative concern.
The bill isn’t expected to go to vote until June or July 2017, but its passage is all-but imminent.
When the IGA goes into effect, AU online betting sites located offshore will be required to obtain a license in Australia to continue accepting Aussies, and must abide by the laws of the country. Any operator that continues to access the Australia market without a license faces the possibility of hefty fines and penalties.
In its current scripting, the IGAB will also put an end to in-play sports betting over the internet, as well as the extension of credit for betting purposes.
Another change to Australia online gambling laws could come even sooner. Communications Minister Mitch Fifeld confirmed that a proposition to ban gambling advertisements during broadcasts of live sporting events will go before committee on Tuesday, April 25.