ACMA’s Blocking Strategy
Since its initial blocking request in November 2019, ACMA has maintained a relentless approach towards curbing illegal online gambling. To date, an impressive 863 illegal gambling and affiliate sites have been barred. Furthermore, a significant number of 218 illegal services have withdrawn from the Australian market since the enforcement of new illegal offshore gambling regulations in 2017.
The primary rationale behind these blocking requests is to prevent operators from offering illegal online gambling services to Australians. Not only does ACMA block sites without a valid Australian licence, but it also takes action against platforms advertising unlicensed or forbidden gambling services.
The Implications for Australian Players
The blocking of these sites is more than just regulatory action; it serves to protect Australian players. As ACMA explicitly mentioned, “Australians who use illegal gambling services are not protected by Australian laws.” This lack of protection poses risks such as service providers withholding winnings, among other potential issues.
A Persistent Approach to Combat Illegal Gambling
The recent blocking of Wild Blaster and BetUS is not an isolated incident. Earlier this month, a betting odds comparison service, Best Bookies’ Price, ceased its operations following a formal warning from ACMA due to breaches of national gambling laws. Additionally, last month saw inhibiting requests against 5 other websites: Viperspin, Just Casino, Betandplay, Play Fina, and Comic Play Casino, all of which were found to be operating illegally in Australia.
ACMA’s Comprehensive Protective Measures
While website blocking remains a significant tool in ACMA’s arsenal, it’s not the only measure in place to safeguard Australian consumers. Gambling sites can face blocking if they provide prohibited interactive services like online casinos, online pokies, or in-play online sports betting. If a casino doesn’t have a local licence or targets Australians with advertisements, ISPs can be instructed to terminate its operations.
- Furthermore, to combat the challenges of irresponsible gambling, in November 2019, the Australian government introduced a nationwide self-exclusion register. This voluntary measure allows individuals to pause their online gambling activities for a minimum of three months.
In August 2023, the BetStop program was launched. This self-exclusion register empowers consumers to have better control over their gambling habits, offering the option to exclude themselves from all AU-licensed online and mobile wagering sites either temporarily or permanently.
An Additional Measure Under Consideration
Lastly, a potential measure under consideration is the banning of credit cards for online gambling. While not yet law, if passed, both operators and consumers will have a six-month adjustment period before financial penalties are enacted for non-compliance. With the relentless efforts of ACMA, Australia continues its fight against illegitimate online gambling, ensuring a safer and more regulated environment for its citizens.