In Australia and the nation’s media and communications watchdog is reportedly struggling to shut down access to iGaming sites that may be attempting to offer their services to local punters without a license.
According to a Saturday report from The Guardian newspaper, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) can use the provisions of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 to compel domestic Internet service providers to block locals from gaining access to unlicensed online gambling domains. The regulator purportedly added 18 such sites to its ‘blacklist’ of proscribed services just last month to take its historical tally up to 222.
However, the newspaper reported that the ACMA has not yet dealt with ten iGaming domains it believes may be marketing their services to Australian punters without an appropriate license despite having been made aware of their existence some two months ago. The source detailed that these suspicious domains include those branded as Fair Go Casino, Two Up Casino, Red Dog Casino, True Blue Casino, Cherry Gold Casino, XPokies, BoVegas and PlayCroco, which markets itself as an ‘online casino for Australian pokie lovers.’
The Guardian reported that the Asia-Pacific iGaming market is estimated to be worth up to $70 billion while interest among Australian punters surged last year in response to the many stay-at-home orders issued in response to the coronavirus pandemic. The ACMA purportedly disclosed that it is ‘proceeding with the enforcement and disruption options’ available to it including ‘website blocking’ but has often found its investigative efforts hindered by sites’ use of software from Internet infrastructure innovator Cloudflare to shield their registrations.
A spokesperson for the ACMA reportedly also told the newspaper that the use of such screening technology contravenes the tenets of the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 but that it has nevertheless seen over 86% of illicit providers abandon the Australian market following contact or the issuance of ‘a formal warning.’ This purportedly comes because unlicensed domains can now be fined up to $1.1 million for every day that they are found to have serviced local punters without a valid license.
The ACMA reportedly moreover told The Guardian that it first began blocking access to unlicensed iGaming websites in November of 2019 with this course now considered to be ‘effective in disrupting gambling services being provided into the Australian market.’ Nevertheless, the spokesperson purportedly described the current online gambling landscape as ‘a challenging and complex environment to regulate’ even as it engages with licensed providers and stakeholders ‘to raise awareness of Australia’s online gambling laws’ so as to minimize the size of the illegal market.
Reportedly read a statement from the ACMA…
“Some of the illegal gambling services whose sites have been blocked have either withdrawn of their own accord or have not taken any action to circumvent the blocks. Others have sought to circumvent the blocks by launching mirror sites. We monitor and block mirror sites, sometimes repetitively.”
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