The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) announced today that it would ban illegal gambling sites operating from foreign jurisdictions. The communications watchdog has warned Australian citizens to withdraw funds from these sites before they are blocked.
Watchdog takes strict action
The communications regulator will ask the internet service providers to block a slew of illegal offshore sites from the country. These sites do not operate in Australia with adequate licenses, violating the terms of the Interactive Gaming Act 2001. The Morrison administration in Australia laid out a three-step plan for gambling reform in the country. Blocking illegitimate websites is the third and final step in the plan, which was created as a follow for the O’Farrell Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering.
According to data, Australians spend over $400 million on illegal offshore gaming sites every year. While gambling on these websites is easier, it is challenging to receive their earnings. Because of the presence of these non-compliant sites, the government loses at least $100 million in tax revenue each year.
What is ACMA doing to fight the issue?
Nerida O’Laughlin, the chairperson of ACMA, recently said that the watchdog receives several customer complaints about such websites, which helps them identify illegal operators. She expects the number of complaints to increase while the regulator carries on its investigations.
Illegitimate betting operators are known to withdraw funds from the users’ bank accounts without their explicit permission. They also make it incredibly hard for customers to withdraw their funds. Such operators ensure that players can deposit their money easily but do not pay their earnings. They could change their location or cease servicing users, making it impossible for them to access their funds.
“The ability to have internet service providers block illegal websites will be a valuable additional weapon in the ACMA’s arsenal in the fight against illegal online gambling.”
She acknowledged that illegitimate websites are designed and branded in a way that would appeal to local customers. Public education that helps guide people and protects them while gambling online could be a key tool in eradicating this problem.
Emu Casino and FairGo Casino will be the first two websites to face the ban. Both firms run with a Curacao operating license and have engaged in multiple fraudulent activities. Federal Communications Minister Paul Fletcher also shared his concerns in an interview with the Sydney Morning Herald. He said that offshore betting companies frequently defraud Australian customers. He also noted that monitoring these firms is more difficult.