ACMA Target Black Market Betting Sites

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) intends to ask that 18 offshore black market betting websites be removed by Internet Service Providers (ISP) in the country.

An official statement by the ACMA uncovered that since its first blocking application was made in November 2012, 222 illegal gambling operators have been removed from the web in Australia.

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Offshore gambling legislation in 2017

Meanwhile, after the Authority launched its illicit offshore gambling legislation in 2017, over 100 illegal services have voluntarily withdrawn from the Australian market.

Website blocking is further identified by the ACMA as ‘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’ as ‘one of a range of enforcement options’ to protect the nation’s public from unscrupulous operators.

Violations of criteria

Under the Telecommunications Act 1997, the ACMA can request that any betting website be withdrawn by the ISP on the basis of violations of the following criteria:

  • Providing prohibited interactive gambling services to customers in Australia (such as online casinos, online slot machines and services that allow in-play online sports betting).
  • Providing an unlicensed regulated interactive gambling service to customers in Australia (such as online betting services that don’t have a valid Australian licence).
  • Publishing ads for prohibited interactive gambling services or unlicensed regulated interactive gambling services in Australia.

The announcement comes as the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC) of the United Kingdom and betting operators are engaged in a dialogue with the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and industry reform advocates on the existence of the country’s black market.

A recent PWC study commissioned by the BGC and leading operators found that while the number of UK online gamblers aware of black market websites remained constant at 4.5 million, within 12 months the number of punters using these platforms rose from 210,000 to 460,000.

The gambling reformers, however, have criticised the arguments of the black market, with UKGC Chief Executive Neil McArthur calling the study ‘exaggerated’ and ‘not consistence with the intelligence picture.’