Posted in Industry December 31, 2019
Australia Renews Fight Against Illegal Gambling
Authorities in Australia are intensifying their efforts to crack down on illegal gambling operators. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is leading a renewed campaign against online casinos and gambling platforms that are not properly authorized or licensed. The ACMA is collaborating with local internet service providers to block access to these unauthorized sites.
These measures were recommended in a comprehensive review of the Australian online gaming industry conducted in 2015 by Barry O’Farrell, the former premier of New South Wales. The goal is to address the loopholes in the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. Prior to the review, offshore online casinos were able to evade existing laws and target Australian players. Following the review and the subsequent amendment of the gambling law in August 2017, Australian players were prohibited from accessing these services. However, unlicensed operators found ways to continue promoting their businesses, leading to the growth of the black market. It is estimated that Australian players spend around A$400 million on illegal and unlicensed gambling platforms, resulting in a loss of A$100 million in tax revenues.
Key Points of the New Measures
The new policy empowers the ACMA to investigate unlicensed operators and refer cases to internet service providers for action. Australian Communications Minister Paul Fletcher stated that the aim is to protect players from misleading and confusing promotional campaigns by unlicensed online casinos. Since these websites are not authorized, players have no legal recourse or protection if they encounter issues with accessing or retrieving their money.
Fletcher acknowledged that the ACMA faced challenges in the past when dealing with faceless offshore companies without physical offices in Australia. Working with internet service providers to block access provides a practical solution to the problem. ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin emphasized that this new measure strengthens their campaign against black market operations. The ACMA is actively monitoring the industry and reviewing customer complaints. It expects the list of blocked casinos to expand as investigations continue. Gambling platforms that use Australian symbols and imagery will be prioritized for investigation and potential blocking if found to be illegal or unlicensed.