Online sportsbetting industry giant Pinnacle has stopped doing business with Australian customers as of Monday, March 12, 2018. Affected individuals have until March 20 to request the withdrawal of their balances. The news was delivered to users via email:
In a separate email sent to affiliates, Pinnacle outlined new guidelines that will be in effect going forward:
While Pinnacle hasn't publicly revealed the reasons why it's opting to leave the Australian market, it's very likely that this move is related to the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016, which became law in August 2017. Under the provisions of this legislation, unlicensed betting firms like Pinnacle face serious monetary fines and possible criminal indictments if they continue to serve Australians.
In February, the Australian Communications and Media Authority announced that it had found 19 violations of the gambling law. This government agency stated that it “successfully engaged” with these companies and that several of them would be closing their doors to Aussie customers as a result. None of the parties involved in these discussions were named, but it's not unreasonable to suppose that Pinnacle may have been one of them.
Pinnacle has a long history of leaving behind controversial markets. They were formerly one of, if not the best, online sportsbook available in the USA, but left in 2007 due to the passage of UIGEA. Pinnacle also pulled its services from the United Kingdom after legal regulations and taxation treaties clarified their positions and became more stringent in 2014.
Pinnacle first started taking bets in 1998 and has grown in the intervening years to become one of the largest bookmaking enterprises on the internet. While its accounting records aren't open to public inspection, industry insiders believe that Pinnacle handles billions of dollars per year in wagers. The company is headquartered and licensed in Curaçao.
Pinnacle eschews the normal model of offering sign-up bonuses to potential customers, instead focusing on providing low-juice lines as a kind of everyday promotion. Another unique attribute of the firm is that it doesn't ban or restrict the accounts of winners. Rather, it monitors their activity to help it adjust its odds in real time to changing market conditions.
Pinnacle now stands as one of the most respected bookies online. They have a reputation of taking all comers, sharps included. They even take business from other sportsbooks, a sort of bookie for bookies scenarior, accepting 6 figure wagers at times. In fact, many other sportsbooks, like Nitrogen Sports for example, source their lines directly from Pinnacle rather than attempting to handicap contests themselves.
Pinnacle's ongoing success is all the more remarkable when we review its history of exiting many countries after prohibitory legislation was enacted. Perhaps the most notable instance of this occurring came in the wake of the UIGEA in the United States. The UIGEA passed on Sept. 30, 2006, and Pinnacle stopped accepting American action about three months later.
It was a similar story in the United Kingdom when the bookmaker opted to halt its U.K. business following the passage of a law that added a 15% point of consumption tax to online sports bets. In April 2017, Pinnacle similarly stopped accepting bets from Polish citizens after a new regulatory regime was adopted in Poland.
The recent decision by Pinnacle to start allowing Bitcoin deposits for sums as high as €8,000 per transaction may afford it some protection from the further whims of governments around the globe. This digital currency allows real money online gaming enterprises to bypass restrictive laws and cumbersome banking regulations by instead dealing directly with customers. Pinnacle's users can also withdraw via BTC as well, up to a maximum of €2,000 per 24 hours. There's a fee of €12 on Bitcoin cashouts except for the first in a month, which is free.
While Pinnacle's recent communications don't give any hint of any intention to revisit its departure from Australia, we can't rule out an eventual return to the Land Down Under. After abandoning the United Kingdom, the company applied for a license from the U.K. Gambling Commission several years later, and it's expected to return to Great Britain any time now. It could be that Pinnacle will pursue a similar strategy in Australia.
The loss of such a prestigious brand as Pinnacle undoubtedly has many Australian punters shaking their heads in dismay, but all hope isn't lost. There are several other internet bookmakers that happily welcome Aussies. It's important to note that individuals placing wagers online aren't subject to any sanctions under Australian law – it's those running and managing the sportsbetting businesses who are taking the entire risk. Even then, this new law is likely to be challenged in World Trade Organization arbitration sooner or later as it is likely in direct violation of WTO guidelines on international trade.
All that being said, we strongly recommend that anyone in Australia who's looking for a new book sign up with TigerGaming. Tiger provides all new depositors with a 100% up to $2,500 bonus to use for betting on sports. In addition, you can claim an identically sized bonus for poker and another $1,000 for casino games. Read our review of TigerGaming for instructions on how to register your new account. If you also enjoy poker, then check out our list of the best online poker in Australia.