Posted in Industry December 31, 2019
Australia Renews Fight Against Illegal Gambling
In a move that’s expected to dominate the conversations on the Australian iGaming industry, authorities have announced a new round of policy actions that will tighten the noose for illegal gambling operators. In an article published by the Brisbane Times, it was reported that the government has started a renewed crackdown on Australian-facing online casinos and gambling platforms that are not authorized and licensed to operate. According to the news report, this new campaign is spearheaded by the Australian Communications and Media Authority or ACMA.
Under its new mandate which strengthens its fight against black market operations, the organization is now working with local internet service providers to block unauthorized Australia-facing online casinos and gambling platforms. This is one of the 19 measures recommended in the sweeping review of the online gaming industry of Australia that was led by the former premier of New South Wales, Mr. Barry O’ Farrel in 2015. As part of the commitment to take the campaign against black market operations, the team identified an ISP block as one measure to be used by the ACMA. Also, this renewed campaign is a way to address the loopholes on the original Interactive Gambling Act of 2001.
Before the review, offshore online casinos managed to circumvent the existing laws and target Australian players. After the completion of the review made by the team of O’Farrell and the passage of the edited version of the gambling law in August 2017, Aussie players were no longer allowed to access the gaming services. However, the unlicensed operators managed to found another way to promote their business and this led to the growth of the black market. According to estimates, Australian players spend roughly A$400 million on illegal and unlicensed gambling platforms which translate to A$100 million in lost tax revenues.
What to Expect from this New Set of Measures
To help regulate the industry, the new policy allows the ACMA to investigate unlicensed operators and when it fails to enforce the laws, it will refer the case to internet service providers. In a statement by the Australian Communications Minister Paul Fletcher, he shared that this renewed policy is a way to protect Australian players from misleading and confusing promotional campaigns that are run by unlicensed online casinos. He added that since these websites are not authorized to operate then there’s no legal reason or protection for players in case they want to retrieve their money.
Also, the Communications Minister admitted that ACMA struggled in the past when it comes to addressing the issue. Although it can enforce the rules and issue warnings, it can be difficult if the organization is fighting ‘faceless companies’ with no physical offices in Australia. So the next best step for the government agency is to work with internet service providers to cut access to these services.
According to ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin, this new measure gives them a more powerful tool in its campaign against black market operations. She added that her team is consistently monitoring the industry and it is currently reviewing complaints from customers. And as they investigate more websites, they expect that the list of casinos that should be blocked will increase. Also, it’s expected that the gambling platforms that make use of Australian imagery and symbols will be the first ones that will be investigated and blocked if found to be illegal and unlicensed.