Illegal Gaming Sites Targeted Again by Australia’s Communications Watchdog

Online gaming in Australia is on the rise, which also means that the government can expect an uptick in the number of illegal websites targeting the country. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) shuts them down as quickly as possible, and has now moved to eliminate another 11.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority’s sign outside its offices. The communications watchdog sent a new notice to ISPs to shut off access to 11 illegal gambling sites. (Image: Yogonet)

One of the ACMA’s primary responsibilities is to serve as the country’s media watchdog. However, it received legal authority to target unauthorized gambling sites, as well.

To block the sites, the ACMA must send a request to ISPs in the country. However, it comes across more as an order than a recommendation. Since last December, ISPs have received notices to shut off access to at least 36 sites, including those in the latest batch.

Online Gamblers to Lose Access

The ACMA added Pokie Island, Rich Palms, Lucky Tiger Casino, Megaslot, Bitkingz, Parimatchwin, Casino Rocket, Montecryptos, Cabarino, Robin Roo and Jackpot Jill VIP to its growing list. All were serving Australian gamblers without a license.

Gamblers who use the sites have to understand the risks when they establish their accounts. The ACMA and state regulators cannot control those platforms, which means consumers risk losing their money if the sites decide to shut down. Alternatively, when the ACMA sends its notices to the ISPs, consumers run the risk of losing access, as well, which means potentially losing funds in their accounts.

The watchdog began requesting ISP blocks in November 2019. Since then, around 555 sites have gone dark. Another 170 have left voluntarily because of increased online gaming rules in the country.

However, it’s likely that some of the same banned operators return under different names. This is an example of the unscrupulous nature of the people behind the sites, providing another reason consumers need to avoid them.

In spite of the ACMA’s efforts, there are still plenty of sites that target Australian gamblers. As a result, it’s likely that tens of millions of dollars go out of the country each year. Unfortunately, this is money that doesn’t make it into governments or responsible gambling programs.

New Self-Exclusion Registry Coming

The ACMA announced a new nationwide self-exclusion registry in June. Since then, the project, called BetStop, has advanced significantly, and the agency is close to taking it live.

BetStop is a major initiative to offer better responsible gaming controls in the country. It will apply to all six of Australia’s states and will provide a number of attributes operators will need to combine with their own efforts.

BetStop will be up and running in the coming months. It is now time for the industry to get ready and to have their systems and processes in place to protect their customers and use BetStop,” said ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin.

The platform is a requirement for operators. They will have to promote the initiative on their websites, as well as through their mobile apps and marketing campaigns. In accordance with the powers, the ACMA received, adopting the agency’s criteria for BetStop will be a part of a company’s ability to hold a license in any of the states.

In addition to the support gaming operators will provide, nationwide responsible gambling initiatives will participate. Both the National Gambling Helpline and the Gambling Help Online will be involved in making it effective.

The ACMA expects to roll out BetStop within the next three to four months.

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