Australia’s ACMA Continues Crackdown on Offshore Operators

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ordered a further twelve gambling websites to be blocked for operating in the country illegally.

The sites are: ZEbet, ZEturf, SlotVibe, Arlekin Casino, Johnnie Kash Kings, Lucky Star, Horus Casino, 21Dukes, Tangiers Casino, 7reels, Winward Casino and Thebes Casino.

Following investigations by the ACMA, each of the sites has been found to be in breach of Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001. As such, the regulator has asked Australian ISPs to block access to the sites.

Since November 2019, when the ACMA made its first website blocking request, a total of 399 sites have been blocked. Furthermore, more than 160 operators have left the Australian market since the regulator began enforcing illegal offshore gambling rules in 2017.

According to the ACMA, blocking websites is an effective way of alerting players to illegal gambling services through messaging that is displayed when they try to access a site.

The latest blocking orders come after a report was published last week showing that more than 10% of Australians took part in some form of online gambling at least once in the first half of 2021. The majority of the players used legal websites, but 5% of them admitted to using an offshore operator.

The report found that 11% of players aged 18 to 34 used offshore operators, while the figure was just 2% amongst players aged 45 and above. A total of 6% said that they did not know if they were using an offshore operator, and 89% said that they would only gamble with licensed operators.

It is not the first time that the ACMA has flexed its muscles this month. A few weeks ago, it issued a fine of AU$3.7million to Sportsbet, Flutter Entertainment’s Australian brand, for spamming customers with SMS and email marketing. The fine consisted of an AU$2.5m infringement notice and AU1.2m that the operator promised to refund to customers.

The fine was issued after the ACMA found that Sportsbet had sent more than 150,000 marketing SMS messages and emails to more than 37,000 customers who had unsubscribed from receiving them.

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