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PokerStars Could Leave Australian Online Poker Market By July

Anti-Poker Legislation Could Be Enacted In Coming Weeks


The world’s largest poker site could be exiting Australia in a matter of weeks.

During a first quarter earnings call on May 12, Amaya, parent company of PokerStars, said that it is monitoring the Australian situation very closely. For now, PokerStars is still letting Aussies play real-money games, but that could change by July.

“If the current proposed legislation is enacted in Australia, we intend to block players in that market,” said the company’s chief financial officer Daniel Sebag. “We currently estimate that the proposed legislation could be considered in late May, and we would block players in that market approximately 30 days thereafter.”

The country’s parliament approved online gaming rules in late March that if enacted would prohibit citizens from playing on offshore real-money poker platforms.

A 2015 study of online gambling happening in the country recommended closing “loopholes” that allowed Aussies to play web poker. A law dating back to 2001 attempted to prohibit internet casino games, leading to a grey market situation.

The new rules state that online poker companies can’t offer games to Australians unless licensed. But there’s no licensing or regulatory process for online poker like there is for sports betting over the internet in Australia.

Amaya currently offers poker to Australian customers under its Isle of Man global gaming license.

888Poker, one of PokerStars’ main competitors, left the market in January.

Amaya’s revenue from poker in Q1 was $218.7 million, the first revenue increase in three quarters. Poker revenue grew 1.1 percent compared to Q1 of 2016.

It’s unclear what the impact of losing Australia would have on poker revenue. It is worth noting that Australians spend more on gambling than people anywhere else in the world.

According to H2 Gambling Capital, an adult in Australia spent (lost) an average of $990 on gambling in 2016. The Economist reported that the amount is 40 percent higher than Singapore, the runner-up on the list, and about double the average in Western countries like the U.S. and Canada.

Though Aussies gamble at a high rate, generating a gambling market worth about $18 billion a year, there isn’t a lot of room for growing the market, according to the report.

“Despite Australia’s profitability, the high level of existing gambling penetration and relatively small population of 23 million make it a relatively mature market without much room for expansion.”

The country is also moving forward with other reforms to its gambling industry, which includes prohibiting online betting companies from offering credit to gamblers and also requiring them to offer self-exclusion programs.