The Australian Government has decided to fortify its stance against foreign gambling sites, especially the ones that do not pay out winnings, by compelling internet service providers to block them.
Nerida O’Loughlin, Chair and Agency Head of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has reportedly taken a pledge to restrict such illegal casino websites, thus building on a similar move the regulator earlier made. It is worth noting that in 2017, the ACMA had strengthened its laws, which led to the exit of 65 illegal gambling companies from the Australian market.
According to O’Loughlin, such sites either refuse to hand out significant winnings or pay out only a small amount of money. Customers have also reported of funds being illegally withdrawn by operators from their bank accounts without any authorisation. Curacao-based Emu Casino and Fair Go Casino are among such operators that are likely to be blocked in Australia as reported by the Sydney Morning Herald.
Australian players must keep in mind that the ACMA has strict rules regarding illegal offshore gambling websites targeting players from the country and eventually duping them. Internet service providers will be required to block such sites only when there are no less-severe steps left to be taken.
Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001 was the original anti-gambling law to curb the activities of rogue sites. The regulatory authority came into effect later. Today, the ACMA can fine individuals up to AU$1.35 million ($925,000) and gambling companies up to AU$6.75 ($4.6 million) for running casino and betting websites illegally. Additionally, the regulator has also restricted offending companies from offering credit to players.
Directors of such rogue companies have been mentioned on the Department of Home Affairs Movement Alert list. The regulators in the countries where these sites are established have been notified as well. Nevertheless, Aussies spend nearly $400 million every year in gambling on illegal websites. According to Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, this amount equals nearly $100 million the country could have raised if players played on legal websites.
Aussies access blocked websites via VPN, which restricts locations from being revealed. However, with ISPs blocking websites, the fight against illegal gambling is likely to get tougher. In November 2019, 33 unlicensed operators exited the Australian market under the tightened legal requirements. O’Loughlin feels this list would grow as and when the investigation progresses.
Lottoland Australia Pty Ltd is one such prominent violator of the law that has been found to provide prohibited interactive gambling services such as online jackpot betting, which is a game of chance. However, Lottoland has disagreed and initiated legal proceedings instead.
The ACMA website further cites all the information that can help players protect themselves from rogue sites, especially the ones that target Australian gamblers. O’Loughlin has added that player who have used illegal gambling websites must withdraw any money they have deposited. The country is currently considering formulating new regulations for players who want to gamble online in a legal manner. Such laws might include obligations such as a facial scan of players to access adult content on their devices.