ACMA to begin blocking illegal offshore gambling websites

Image by Tzogia Kappatou

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is set to begin using powers to have Australian internet service providers (ISPs) block illegal offshore gambling websites.

Illegal offshore gambling websites target Australians who often end up being cheated or defrauded.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said that the ACMA will ask ISPs to block gambling sites it has found to be in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 but that continue to offer services to Australians.

“We have been targeting illegal gambling services we know are active in the Australian market through complaints received and monitoring. But we expect that list of sites will grow as we investigate more,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“The ability to have ISPs block illegal websites will be a valuable additional weapon in the ACMA’s arsenal in the fight against illegal online gambling.

“In many cases these sites refuse to pay significant winnings, or only a small portion. Customers had also experienced illegal operators continuing to withdraw funds from their bank account without authorisation.

“There is little to no recourse for consumers engaging with these unscrupulous operators.

“If you have funds deposited with an illegal gambling site, you should withdraw those funds now.  

“More than 65 illegal companies have pulled out of the Australian market since 2017 when the ACMA started enforcing new illegal offshore gambling rules. 

“We have achieved this through working with other regulatory agencies, placing directors of these gambling sites on the Department of Home Affairs Movement Alert List and notifying regulators in the home countries of the sites.

“Public education is also crucial in deterring Australians from using these sites, given many illegal offshore gambling websites target Australians by using Australian themes and images, such as the Australian flag and native animals,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

The ACMA publishes a Register of licensed interactive wagering services so that consumers can be sure services are legal in Australia.

More information about how consumers can protect themselves from illegal gambling operators is available on the ACMA website.

The ACMA’s General Policies and Procedures  provide transparency about how it will exercise powers to have ISPs block relevant illegal gambling sites.

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