Australian ISPs will soon be forced to block local gamblers’ access to illegal offshore websites.
In 2016 the Australian government signalled its intent to get tough on illegal offshore gambling following a 2015 review into the industry.
This turned out to me more than just rhetoric. They moved quickly to amend the Interactive Gambling Act, giving the Act and its enforcer, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (the ACMA) more power to deal with recalcitrant operators.
The amendments clarified the position on exactly what forms of gambling were illegal, and would be targeted. They also gave the ACMA access to a wider array of enforcement measures so that the legislation would not be ignored (as it had been largely in the past).
By 2017 Australia had a less ambiguous legal position, and a regulator armed with a shotgun rather than a popgun. This lead to a mass exodus of many online casino operators from the Australian market.
The likes of 32Red, Party Casino, Leo Vegas and 888 Casino joined a raft of other large EU based operators closing their doors to Aussie players. Operators like bet365, Unibet and William Hill had already restricted casino access in order to run Australian licensed online sports betting operations.
That has pretty much left Australian online casino gamblers playing at the likes of Curacao licensed Emu Casino and Fair Go Casino; both as dodgy as they sound, and both clearly aimed at the Australian market.
ISP Blocking to start next Week
Their days serving Aussie punters are now numbered though.
One of the new powers given to the ACMA is the ability to order ISPs to block offshore gambling sites they deem to be in breach of regulations. According to media reports out of Canberra, this will start happening as soon as next week.
The ACMA in the process of identifying operators they want blocked and will be passing on a list to ISPs. It’s likely Emu and FairGo will be near the top of this list.
From ACMA boss Nerida O’Loughlin:
“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…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.”
And her warning to Australian players still playing pokies online at these operators…
“If you have funds deposited with an illegal gambling site, you should withdraw those funds now”
Good luck with that!