Malta-based online gambling provider Vera&John have become the first operators to shut up shop in the Australian market in the wake of the new Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, brought to the fore by Australia’s Minister for Human Services Alan Tudge.
In the email sent out to all existing Aussie customers, Vera&John didn’t go into much detail on the move, saying it was simply as a “business decision”.
Existing players are no longer able to make deposits with Vera&John, and all current accounts were completely closed within one week of the announcement which occurred between Christmas and New Year. All funds remaining in Australian accounts after the one-week deadline were transferred to their respective owners.
The new legislation will significantly change the online gambling landscape of Australia. No operator will be allowed to offer services to Australian gamblers without a local license under a threat of penalty up to $1,000,000.
The goal of the bill is to combat “in-play” online sports betting. Bets of this type are only allowed to be made via a telephone call in Australia, but gaming operators have been violating the law for a number of years. Many offshore operators without Australian licenses have offered in-play sports betting, as did many Australian operators. By creating smartphone apps that provide the vehicle for such bets, operators had essentially found a loophole to the “telephone call” rule. (A smartphone is still a phone, right?) The new legislation has closed up that loophole.
Vera&John are expected to be the first of many bidding farewell to the Australian market. PokerStars, the biggest online poker site on the planet, is one of those who have already announced their plans to also leave Australia.