PartyPoker, PokerStars Set Hard Exit Dates from Australian Online Poker Market
Prominent global online-poker sites PartyPoker and PokerStars have now firmed up their Australian market-exit plans. The two giants and dozens of other international online operators are being forced to leave the country in the wake of Australia enacting changes to its interactive gambling code (IGA) that effectively bans all online gambling except for sports betting.
Last Wednesday, August 16th, Australia’s Governor-General, Peter Cosgrove, granted royal assent to the changes to the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 (IGA) that were approved by both houses of Australia’s national legislature.
That approval, the final official governmental step, kicked off a 28-day period before the online-poker bantakes effect. While all sites could technically stay open to Australians through September 13th, both PartyPoker and PokerStars will leave before then. Party is closing its virtual Aussie doors on August 31st, while Stars will remain open to Australia until (nearly) the bitter end, blocking out Aussie players on September 11th.
PartyPoker issued a brief statement on its company blog that included the following:
It has been announced that Australian gambling law is due to change imminently with the introduction of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act. Sadly, because of this change, gambling firms licenced and operating outside of Australia will be forced to prevent customers resident in Australia from playing on their gambling websites. Therefore, from 31st August 2017 partypoker players will no longer be able to play from Australia. Players’ deposited funds are safe and available for withdrawal.
partypoker Managing Director Tom Waters said, “We regret that this day has come as Australia is a strong poker market. We will continue to work with the Australian player alliance to lobby the government to provide a safe regulated environment for residents to play online poker in the future.”
The statement concluded with a call to the company’s Australian customers to contact the company “via email, telephone or live chat.” Party also put up an all-purpose contact page (link here).
PokerStars did not make a corporate or brand announcement, but instead confirmed the official exit date in a letter sent to each of its Australian customers. The text of that letter:
The Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill (2016), which was passed earlier this month and effectively bans all online gambling sites not locally licensed under Australian State or Territory law, has now been granted Royal assent. It’s been some time in coming, but sadly we can now confirm that PokerStars will be withdrawing real money services from Australia on September 11, 2017.
Any funds that you have in your Stars Account are, and will continue to be, safe and available for withdrawal. Please remember to open any unopened Stars Rewards Chests. You can continue to spend your StarsCoin in the Rewards Store, and a $1 Cash Rebate has been added to facilitate converting your StarsCoin to cash. Any tournament tickets and tournament money will be converted to cash for withdrawal, effective from the market exit date. We have provided a FAQ page here .
PokerStars will continue to offer the best play money poker action around through the main PokerStars client on desktop, web and mobile, and also through the brand new PokerStars Play app on iOS and Android.
As supporters of sensible online gaming regulation and the most licensed poker brand in the world we hope that future legislation will be considered that will allow PokerStars to return to Australia. The Australian Online Poker Alliance has done great work lobbying on behalf of Australian poker players this year, so if you’re yet to sign up (for free) then it only takes a moment to do so….
Speaking of the Australian Online Poker Alliance, or AOPA, the player-led group plans to promote the findings of last month’s Australian Senate hearing on the topic, once the hearing committee’s findings become available on or around September 21st. The hearing and the eventual findings were rendered moot by the full Senate vote that enacted the changes to the IGA, but the AOPA still hopes to gain public favor by promoting the massive inequities soon to take effect under the latest IGA changes.