Australia Online Gambling Exodus Begins as Vera&John Pulls Up Virtual Stakes

The looming implementation of a series of amendments to Australia’s online gambling laws that will have the practical effect of barring all such gambling other than sports betting has claimed its first corporate victim, as popular English-language online-casino site Vera&John has notified its Aussie customers that their accounts will be closed before the end of the calendar year.

vera-johnThe move by Vera&John, though not formally announced on the company’s site, is expected to be the first of many such departures by a slew of online-casino and poker providers.  Such gaming activity has never been made expressly legal in Australia, despite some prior legislative attempts to do so.  Instead, clarifications made within Australia’s Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 passed in November are poised to force dozens of European operators to step away from the Australian market.

For Vera&John, a popular slots-based offering, the news emerged via a brief e-mail sent to its customers is Australia just a couple of days before Christmas.  The basic text of the announcement reads as follows:

We’re always sorry to say goodbye, but the time has come. Due to a business decision, Vera&John will no longer be able to offer its services in your jurisdiction. Your account will officially be closed in one week.

As of today, you will no longer be able to make deposits to your Vera&John account. Any funds which have not already been removed from your account can still be transferred to your preferred payment provider within the next week.

The brief e-mail does not describe alternative withdrawal options for that remainder of customers who fail to withdraw their balances themselves by years end.  Such situations often require manual assistance via a site’s customer-service channels.  It’s also worth noting that the Vera&John home site has already deactivated its dedicated page for Aussie customers, with those links now automatically redirecting to the site’s top-level home page.

Vera&John is based in Malta, and is owned and operated by Dumarca Gaming Ltd.  Dumarca, in turn, is owned by Canada-based Intertain Group, which acquired Vera&John in an €89.1 million deal in early 2015.  The site and two related social-gaming brands cater to about a dozen countries, scattered around the globe.

As mentioned, the Vera&John departure is likely to be the vanguard of an exodus from Australia by many such firms.  The parent company of global online-poker market leader PokerStars, Amaya Gaming, already disclosed in its most recent quarterly financial-results conference that it was planning a similar move once Australia’s interactive-gambling amendments are officially enacted, with an effective legal date.  Most international sites serving the Aussie online-gambling market are likely to lose single-digit slices of their customer base in the coming months.

What Australia’s pending crackdown won’t do, pending implementation of an online blacklist — a plan once enthusiastically put forth in the country by such anti-gambling activists as Sen. Nick Xenophon — is curtail the black-market sites also serving the country’s bettors.  Many of those are based in other Pacific Rim countries or in a couple of notorious banana-republic jurisdictions, and they are far less likely to heed the official ban on Aussie-facing services.  As always, such sites and jurisdictions remain caveat emptor (“Let the buyer beware”) gambling opportunities, with little recourse for consumers if things go awry.

That such sites are technically still available for former Australian customers of Vera&John, or of other sites soon to exit the country, won’t be of much comfort.

COMMENTS

Leave a Comment

*

LATEST NEWS

filter by

Dan Katz

22nd April 2019 // Industry, Legal News, News

Two Sports Betting Bills Active in Maine Legislature

As legalized sports betting continues to creep across the United States, lawmakers in Maine are looking to help their...

Haley Hintze

21st April 2019 // Industry, Misc, News, Online Poker Action

The Death of Seating Scripts a/k/a PokerStars Expands Script Ban

One of the topics we’ve wanted to explore in greater detail are the continuing changes to the playing environment...

Haley Hintze

21st April 2019 // Industry, Legal News, Misc, News

New Hampshire v DOJ Wire Act Lawsuit Update: The Skirmish Over ‘Whoever’

The ongoing legal battle pitting the State of New Hampshire against the DOJ and its January 2019 reversal opinion...

Haley Hintze

21st April 2019 // Industry, Misc, News

US-Based Anti-Fraud Group SWIMA Announces Its Official Launch

The United States-based Sports Wagering Integrity Monitoring Association (SWIMA) has announced its official launch as...

Haley Hintze

20th April 2019 // Legal News, Misc, News

Another Guilty Plea in Kansas Underground Poker Case

The prominent underground poker game centered in Wichita, Kansas, that was raided by authorities in 2017 after years of...

Dan Katz

19th April 2019 // Industry, News

Pennsylvania Sets Online Poker Launch Date for this Summer

Pennsylvanians can finally start getting their hopes up for online poker as date has finally been set for sites to flip...