PokerStars, the world’s biggest online poker site accounts for over 70 percent of the global online market.
The online poker giant recently announced that it is considering pulling out of the Australian market in wake of likely regulatory changes.
Online gaming laws in Australia are not clearly defined, allowing for several grey operators to currently offer their services to Australian nationals. Until now gaming authorities have largely ignored the segment but that is set to change now.
Legislators have proposed an amendment to provisions of the country’s Interactive Gambling Act of 2011 by which unlicensed poker websites would be deemed illegal. The new bill is currently being reviewed by the country’s Parliament. Parent company Amaya Inc made the observation as a part of its Q3 earnings call with analysts.
In a statement, Daniel Sebag, chief financial officer for Amaya Inc said
In Australia, we currently offer poker and are reviewing the applicability of proposed legislation to player-vs-player games of skill. At this time, it would appear likely that if the legislation passes, we would block players from Australia.
Sebag said that online poker revenue from Australia contributes to 2.5 percent of their revenue and withdrawal from the market would result in their EBIDTA reducing by 150 points. Amaya has always made it clear that it will not operate in grey markets,focusing its efforts only where gambling is legal and regulated.
Having grey market operations would tag it as a bad actor which has the potential to hamper its entry in the United States and threaten its status in New Jersey where it recently launched operations. The company has had to campaign hard for its re-entry into United States after its exit in 2011. PokerStars is already facing opposition in California thanks to its classification as a bad actor in the state.
In the likelihood of the legislation passing in the Australian Parliament, the company has already started reducing its presence in the market. PokerStars recently announced that it would no longer be sponsoring the Aussie Millions tournament, which is one of the largest poker tournaments in the country. The 2017 Aussie Millions is scheduled to take place in January at the Crown Casino in Melbourne.
Gaming experts in the country are not entirely sure if the Labor and crossbench lawmakers will support the bill and send it on to the senate. In case the bill does get approved, PokerStars is likely exit the market completely and then wait to see how it can re-enter as a licensed player like it has done in countries such as Portugal.