ACMA expands blocking remit against illegal betting sites

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced that it has ‘stepped up its efforts’ against illegal betting, and will now block websites that promote and drive traffic towards ‘online casino type services’.

Australian internet service providers (ISPs) have been asked by the ACMA to block designated affiliate advertising websites, which the Authority argues ‘present themselves as independent reviewers of gambling services’.

These sites provide direct links to illegal gambling services, and often receive a commission from illicit operators in return for channeling web traffic, meaning blocking these sites has been made a priority for the ACMA.

Targeted promotional sites include Aussie Casino Hex, Australia OK Casinos, Aussie Online Pokies, Pokies, Australian Casino Club, Australian Gambling and True Blue Casinos.

“These marketing sites can push you to illegal gambling services that do not have the protections that go with licensed and regulated services,” said Fiona Cameron, ACMA Authority Member.

“We often get complaints from consumers that winnings are not honoured and that incentives and pressure tactics target problem gamblers.”

The ACMA has identified illegal online gambling services as websites including online casinos where players can access slots, roulette or poker products in exchange for cash.

Since its responsibilities were expanded under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 in 2017, the ACMA has blocked over 279 illegal gambling websites, resulting in 144 services leaving Australia and traffic to the top ten blocked sites decreasing by 95% as of June 2021.

The ACMA has significantly enhanced its targeting of black market websites this year, blocking 18 in February and a further 10 in March, as problem gambling and gambling related harm becomes an issue of an increasing public concern in the country.

In the state of Queensland, the regional government recently announced a four-year gambling harm reduction plan, focused on industry social responsibility and the leveraging of technological, collaborative and systemic approaches to the minimisation of gambling related harm.

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