IGA Passes: The end of legal online poker and casino betting Australia coming mid-September.
Last week, the Senate approved the Interactive Gambling Amendment bill (IGA), ringing the death knell on most forms of online gambling in the country. All but online sports betting, to be exact.
After more than two years of debate and multiple updates to the IGA, the hopes and dreams of Australia online poker players and casino betting enthusiasts have been squashed. On Wednesday, the Senate passed amendments that will prohibit all unlicenced operators from accessing the nation’s lucrative market.
Due to Australia’s existing stance on interactive poker and casino betting, no licences will be issued for such services. Only online sports betting is deemed legal in the country. Thus online poker and casino operators will be forced to withdrawal their operations, denying future access to Australian punters, or face the consequences.
See the Full List of New Measures in the IGA
Online Poker, Casino Betting Not Illegal Yet
There’s one perfunctory step remaining before the IGA can truly go into effect. It’s a cursory one at best, so don’t get your hopes up that things will suddenly turn around for online poker and casino betting. Australia has made up its mind, and that’s that.
In going through the motions, the IGA will now land upon the desk of Australia’s Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, for Royal Assent. There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that he will sign his name upon the dotted line. It’s only a matter of ‘when’, not if, and even that has a short timeline.
As per the rules of Australian government, the IGA will take effect precisely 28 days following Royal Assent. The average time for the Governor-General’s signature to appear on an approved measure is 1 to 2 weeks. This schedules the official prohibition of online poker and casino betting in Australia to occur some time in mid-September.
PokerStars Confirms AU Online Poker Exit
In response to the Senate’s approval of the IGA, PokerStars was quick to confirm its impending exit from the Australia online poker market. In a mass email notification delivered to the online poker giant’s Australian player base, PokerStars said:
“…We’ve been aware of this day coming and have done our best to keep you informed, but we can confirm that we’ll be closing our real money poker tables to players in Australia, most likely around mid-September…”
The email goes on to assure players that their accounts and funds are perfectly “safe and available for withdrawal”. Players are reminded to open any remaining Stars Rewards Chests and spend their StarsCoins. The operator will convert any unused tournament tickets/money to cash for withdrawal.
Once online poker and casino betting in Australia is officially illegal, PokerStars will transition to play-money only games in the country. If ever given the opportunity to apply for a legal online poker licence, PokerStars will be first in line.
Sports Betting Ops Won’t Go Unscathed
The IGA isn’t just meant to criminalize online poker and casino betting. Australia legislators made sure to pinch online sports betting operators as well. Upon enactment, in-play betting services will finally cease.
In-play betting via online and mobile is already illegal. However, the IGA will put a stop to ‘click-to-call‘ in-play betting on mobile; the loophole several operators squirmed through to provide this popular service last year.