Possible changes to Australian iGambling laws could spell trouble for major poker brands_1

Earlier this year the Australian Minister for Human Services, Alan Tudge, announced that he would be introducing legislation to amend the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 to remove any loopholes that currently allowed operators with licenses in Australia to offer online in-play sports betting. Today, Tudge has filed such legislation that if passed into law, would create fines for those who offer online gambling services to bettors in Australia without having a local license.

The proposed amendment, known as the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016, is a portion of the approach being made by the government to change the online gambling market in Australia. Included in the changes is in-play applications being banned, creating a National Consumer Protection Framework and cracking down on online operators who are internationally licensed.

Possible changes to Australian iGambling laws could spell trouble for major poker brands_1

The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 will amend the current law to make it clear that any operator who takes wagers from individuals in Australia without obtaining a local license will be in violation of the law. The Australian Communications and Media Authority will be authorized by Tudge to impose civil penalties on those who violate the law without calling in the Australian Federal Police. Such fines could include AUD1.35m a day for individuals, which is equal to $1m US dollars, or up to AUD6.75m for companies in violation.

On top of fines, disruption measures will be put in place to further prove the point that Australia does not want unlicensed operators offering services in their country. This will include placing directors or other principal officials of offending companies on a Movement Alert List. This means as soon as the individual sets foot in the country, they would be arrested.

Tudge has plans to meet with state ministers on the 25th of November to discuss the National Consumer Protection Framework. The details of the NCPF could include a ban on punters credit being offered by operators, a self-exclusion list for the country as well as a voluntary pre-commitment scheme.

The new rules put in place, if the amendment were to pass, would force many operators to make tough choices in the country. Those who are in violation would be placed on a ‘name and shame’ list which would be harmful to their reputation. Such companies that operate in Australia currently without a license include PokerStars and PartyPoker.