The online gambling exodus of Australia has begun.
Online casino operator Vera&John has exited the Australian market, the first of what industry insiders expect will be many gambling companies to say goodbye.
The move by the Malta-based operator comes as the Australian government moves to tighten its grip on online gambling, explicitly banning the offering off and engagement in online gambling services.
Australian punters on the Vera&John website received a not-so-good Christmas present this week when they opened their accounts to find a message from the operator detailing the future closure of their accounts.
The company said that it was “always sorry to say goodbye, but the time has come.”
Australian players can expect to have their accounts closed within the week, with all payments transferred to each player’s preferred withdrawal provider in the same period.
Vera&John calls the move “a business decision”, but it clearly has to do with the Australian government’s relationship with online gambling providers.
Owned and operated by Dumarca Gaming Ltd., which in turn is owned by the Canada-based Intertain Group, Vera&John operates in dozens of countries.
It won’t be the only major online gaming operator to skip out on Australia, either.
The parent company of global online poker market leader PokerStars, Amaya Gaming, has stated that it intends to leave the Australian market once interactive-gambling amendments are actually put in place by the government.
While the move wouldn’t cause a huge dent in revenue, the Australian market tends to make for anywhere between two to 10 percent of total revenue for online operators, which is still significant.
This is yet another move by the Australian government, led by anti-gambling advocate Nick Xenophon, to limit and restrict the decision-making process and freedoms available to adults. Interestingly, while any new laws will stop legitimate and regulated operators from offering services to Australian companies, the door remains open for sketchy operators, which offer little to no customer service if things go awry for customers.
As with everything the government tries to ban or regulate, a black market simply steps in to make up for the lack of options. In the case of Vera&John, punters had access to a genuine, regulated and safe online gambling outlet, one that has chosen not to do business in Australian because the country’s government would rather punters use black market sites.
For now, we still have plenty of licensed operators who accept customers from Australia. Among the very best in that group is Bovada Casino, which carries hundreds of real money games and offers big bonuses to new customers.