Could Online Poker Be on Its Way Back to Australia?

March 9, 2018 by Carolyn J Dawson

australia pokerIt was only last year that an anti-gambling bill was passed in Australia, leaving many people to believe that online poker was gone for good in the country. However, it would seem that not all is lost. In a recent acquisition, The Stars Group, which is responsible for online poker room PokerStars, has taken over the reins of the Australian sportsbook Crown Bet. The deal, which saw over $100 million exchange hands, isn’t the only acquisition that took place though. Under the new leadership of The Stars Group, Crown Bet went on to purchase the Australian sector of William Hill.

It’s a huge curveball that has been thrown, as the issue of online poker play within Australia was much-discussed in 2016. It was in August of that year that, much to the chagrin of the country’s poker players, the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 was passed. It was the introduction of this new law that dictated that companies which held international licences for gambling could not provide service to people within Australia. Instead, an Australian gambling licence was, and still is, necessary for such games to be provided to citizens. This move by the Australian government saw major poker platforms, including both 888 and PokerStars leave the market.

Yet February 27 marks the date of when a solution to this problem appears to have been found. This solution is the fact that The Stars Group has gone on to acquire a 62% equity share in the aforementioned Crown Bet. And, of course, being an online sportsbook in Australia, it already holds a gambling licence from the country.

What Comes Next?

Crown Bet has been around since the year of 2014, and while it currently only provides sports betting options for users, this could very well change. It’s not uncommon to see online sportsbooks with poker rooms, casinos and other gaming sections available to their players. Of course, The Stars Group is known worldwide for the PokerStars network, so it’s a very likely move that the Australian’s may see online poker come back to their shores.

The CEO of The Stars Group, Rafi Ashkenazi was exceptionally excited about the deal going through. In a press release, he spoke of Crown Bet being one of Australia’s fastest growing sportsbooks in the online world. And he accredited this to the site’s strong management, proprietary technology, unique partnerships, mobile app and what he called a “market-leading” loyalty scheme.

It’s a statement that is completely true to say as well, with Crown Bet’s growth clearly visible as far as yearly revenue is concerned. In 2015, the brand brought in A$76.5 million, which rose significantly higher in 2017, to A$204 million. Following the acquisition by The Stars Group, Matthew Tripp remained CEO of Crown Bet, and has been in such a position ever since its opening in 2014. Furthermore, he went on to happily announce the acquisition of the Australian branch of William Hill, with the deal taking place for $300 million.