Australia is looking to introduce some changes to their gambling laws. According to all the indicators, these changes will be adopted soon, and they will not be favorable to online gambling operators. Namely, the Australian government will be introducing strict licensing procedures and harsh fees for those operators not playing by the book.
Online Casino Operators Leaving
Vera&John, one of the best-known online casinos on the planet, announced earlier this week they’d be leaving the Australian market. They sent out an email to all their Australian customers, warning them their accounts will be completely shut down in a week’s time.
The casino didn’t offer too much of an explanation for their exit, but it seems clear that the looming legislative changes are at a heart of this decisions. Existing players from Down Under will receive their funds in full once their accounts are closed, but they’ll no longer be able to play at Vera&John. Likewise, no new players will be accepted.
Vera&John is probably only the first of many casinos that will be leaving Australia shortly. Many have already announced their withdrawal from the Aussie market, including one of the biggest online poker site, Amaya owned and operated PokerStars.
Given the fact online gambling, especially on slots (pokies) is very popular in the country, it can be expected some operators will be very reluctant to leave. With new laws coming into force, Australia will become another “gray” market, where online gambling isn’t prohibited, but it is only allowed under a very strict set of conditions. In the past, several major operators have shown a willingness to flirt with gray markets and stretch the limits of the law.
Licensing Fees and Hefty Penalties
Once new laws are in place, all operators wanting to provide services for Aussie players will only be able to do so after receiving a proper license. While we don’t have particular details on the licensing process just yet, it is expected that the procedure will involve in-depth checks and significant licensing fees for those who wish to continue. Some casinos will, undoubtedly, obtain the proper licenses, but might first leave the market until everything is resolved.
Those who decide to ignore the laws could face penalties as high as $1,000,000. Most operators who intend to apply for the license at some later point will probably not risk the penalty and will rather opt to leave the market for the time being.