The fallout from the recent online gaming regulatory changes in Australia continues, as partypoker has announced that it will be withdrawing from the country’s internet poker market, effective August 31st.
In a brief statement, which can be found on the website of party’s parent company, GVC Holdings, partypoker said:
It has been announced that Australian gambling law is due to change imminently with the introduction of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act. Sadly, because of this change, gambling firms licenced and operating outside of Australia will be forced to prevent customers resident in Australia from playing on their gambling websites. Therefore, from 31st August 2017 partypoker players will no longer be able to play from Australia. Players’ deposited funds are safe and available for withdrawal.
partypoker Managing Director Tom Waters said, “We regret that this day has come as Australia is a strong poker market. We will continue to work with the Australian player alliance to lobby the government to provide a safe regulated environment for residents to play online poker in the future.”
This decision stems from the approval of changes to the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 a couple weeks ago by the Australian Senate. The bill states that all online gambling operators must apply for and be granted a license to offer their services to people in the country. This is certainly not unreasonable – we poker fans here in the United States want government licensure and regulation – and normally partypoker would look to apply for such a license. The problem in this case is that the only form of online gambling for which licenses are available is sports betting.
Thus, in order to operate in Australia, partypoker would have to work in violation of the country’s gambling laws, as it will literally be impossible for the company to receive an online poker license. None will exist. So, rather than be a rogue operator – and there will be rogue operators – partypoker has decided to withdraw from the market completely.
The new gambling law has not taken effect just yet; they will start up 28 days after the bill is signed by Sir Peter Cosgrove, Australia’s Governor-General. This act, called “Royal Assent,” took place on August 16th, so it looks like September 13th is the day of reckoning for online poker in Australia.
Partypoker is not the first online gambling site to pull out of Australia. Bingo site Vera&John led the way in December. 888poker became the first online poker site to do so, withdrawing in January. PokerStars announced that it would likely do so a while back, finally confirming as such approximately a week ago. We would expect most other online poker rooms to follow suit, provided they do not want to be on the wrong side of the law.
As partypoker mentioned, player funds are safe – they just won’t be useable as of August 31st. We would suggest players cash out their poker funds as soon as possible, not because they won’t be there come September, but just in case the process gets more complicated once partypoker shuts down in Australia.