PokerStars CFO Confirms AU Legislation Could Require Block of Local Players

Regulations and legislation are in place around the world to ensure that poker sites operate effectively as well as according to how the local government wants them to. Poker sites that break such rules can face fines as well as litigation, which is something no online poker operator wants to deal with. It is not uncommon for poker sites to operate in an area without legislation in place and the country makes changes which can lead to the poker site pulling out. Australia is the latest country considering new online gambling legislation that would shut out certain poker sites from operating, including PokerStars.

During the Q3 Amaya earnings call for the company, PokerStars CFO Daniel Sebag stated that the poker room would most likely block Australians from their site if new online gambling legislation is passed in parliament. Professional poker players based in Australia will have to find a new home if they want to maintain their career via PokerStars.

During the call, Sebag discussed how PokerStars would block players from accessing real money gaming via their site if proposed amendments are passed into law for the Interactive Gambling Act of 2011. The proposed amendments are known as the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 which was introduced by Mitch Fifield, the Minister For Communications.

Helping to push the measure is Alan Tudge, the Minister for Human Services. Tudge says that his support of the measure is due to trying to seriously disrupt the activities that he considers to be illegal offshore providers who are targeting Australians who he sees ae vulnerable.

In 2015, the Global Betting and Gaming Consultants conducted research on Australian gamblers and found that the nation is the largest involved in gambling per capita with $866 per year spend at such sites as PokerStars and William Hill. Australia is apparently the place to be when it comes to operating a gambling business.

Both Tudge and Fifield want to see gambling operators shut out in Australian. Online sports betting is legal in the country but other online gambling activities are not specifically legalized. Both Ministers are looking to shut out other online gambling activities from taking place within the country. With the amended bill, a demarcation would be clearly set between what is considered legal as well as illegal in regards to online gambling in the country and poker would be one that is shut out.

In the amended bill, it states that prohibited services to be listed under the IGA would include casino style gaming services of chance as well as mixed skill and chance. This would include poker, roulette and blackjack. These games are considered as they are played for money or anything else of value. Under the limited circumstances, wagering and lotteries would be permitted.

If online poker is shut out in Australia, PokerStars would have to stop offering services or face consequences. According to Sebag, the online poker market for PokerStars in the country creates around 2.5% of the revenues for the company. PokerStars does operate an online sports betting site in the country with BetStars but the online sportsbook has been unable to gain traction in the country. It would not be surprising to see PokerStars withdraw completely, with all online gambling services removed from the country.

For now, we shall see if the legislation will pass and what PokerStars will do. It will not be surprising to see the poker brand move out of Australia until new legislation is created to allow online poker gaming. For now, those in charge are not interested in seeing online poker included in what residents of the country have access to.