Posted on: February 25, 2022, 09:22h.
Last updated on: February 25, 2022, 09:22h.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority continues its efforts to remove unlicensed online betting operators from the country. It has sent a request to ISPs to block 12 sites, which will add to the 14 blocked in December.
It’s getting more difficult to make an honest living as an illegal gambling operator in Australia. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) makes it clear that unlicensed operators aren’t welcome, and continuously intervenes to have them blocked.
Unlicensed Gaming Operators Get Shut Off
This past December, the agency sent out a call to ISPs to have them shut off access to 14 gaming-related sites that operated without a license. This week, it added another 12, accusing them of breaching the country’s Interactive Gambling Act of 2001.
The entire list includes 7 Reels, 21 Dukes, Arlekin Casino, Horus Casino, Johnnie Kash Kings, Lucky Star, Slot Vibe, Tangiers Casino, Thebes Casino, Winward Casino, Zebet and Zeturf.
When the ACMA received permission to go after unlicensed operators in 2017, 160 sites subsequently decided to voluntarily exit. However, there were plenty that stuck around.
The ACMA has called for blocks against most of these, others have flown under the radar and still others appear, hoping to avoid detection. In total, since first requesting that ISPs block illegal gaming sites in November 2019, 399 have been shut off.
ACMA Wants to Do More
A recent study by the ACMA showed that online gaming and betting continue to find greater popularity in the country. 11% of the gaming population targets online options, compared to 8% in 2020. This is undoubtedly going to entice some operators – “inadvertently” or otherwise – to allow Aussies to gamble on their platforms.
The agency still has a difficult time enforcing the regulations it has to uphold. It can make requests and seek support from ISPs and others, but it doesn’t have the authority to demand intervention or action.
The ACMA hopes it can change this. It is pressuring Australia’s government to give it the control it needs to fulfill its mission. If they listen and authorize the changes, the agency would be in a better spot. It could react swiftly and efficiently, providing better protection to Australian consumers.
In other areas of operation, the ACMA already has that control. For example, it can issue fines against companies, like it did recently to Sportsbet. The Australian arm of Flutter Entertainment received a bill for AU$3.7 million (US$2.7 million) for going on a spamming spree for more than a year. It also had to repay AU$1.2 million (US$866,000) to customers who made purchases as a result of the spam messages.
However, illegal operators have virtual immunity until ISPs implement a block order. Between the time the ACMA discovers the site and the ISP shuts it off, it’s possible the operator has already generated revenue.
At that point, blocking access to the platform is too late. It won’t prevent money from heading offshore until a black hole somewhere, possibly in Russia or North Korea.