The Australian Communications and Media Authority is about to issue its second request to local internet service providers to block illegal gambling websites hosted offshore.
The ACMA’s first request to Australian providers was made in late 2019, which resulted in 238 sites being blocked. This time around, there are only ten sites on the list and the ACMA is urging Australian users of the sites to pull out their cash – now.
The sites have been targeted following many complaints about the services involved, and subsequent investigations found them to be operating in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.
The ACMA notes more than 130 illegal services have exited the Australian market since it started enforcing new rules related to illegal offshore gambling in 2017.
“Website blocking provides a valuable opportunity to alert the public to illegal gambling services through the messaging that appears when there is an attempt to access the site,” says the ACMA.
The risks associated with using such websites is high. For example, Australians may be able to deposit money into the service, but be unable to withdraw winnings. There have also been instances where illegal operators continue to withdraw funds from Australian gamblers’ bank accounts without permission – or just shut up shop, taking the money with them.
Complaints about prohibited or unlicensed interactive gambling services (including advertising for such services) can be submitted via the ACMA website and complaints can be lodged anonymously.
On a related note, Australian gamblers were betting more often during COVID-19 according to an Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) survey report released in October last year . And while there may have been limited access to physical venues during lockdowns, 62% of those surveyed gambled online before COVID‑19, while during May‑July 2020 this increased to 78%.
If gambling (either your own or someone else’s) is causing you problems and you’d like to talk with someone, support can be accessed via the Gambling Helpline on 1800 858 858 or Gambling Help Online. These services are free, non-judgmental, private and confidential; available 24 hours, 7 days a week.