Australian Government to block illegal gambling platforms

Recently, the Australian government has taken a tough stance on online gambling with new regulations and rules coming out every now and then. The Federal Government recently announced a new measure that will block illegal gambling platforms that are targetting Australians in particular. Paul Fletcher, the Communications Minister in the country said that there are many people who are constantly losing money on over a thousand such websites, and they weren’t losing this money by gambling but simply because they found it impossible to withdraw their rightful funds. “There’s quite a regular stream of complaints from Australians who place bets on these sites and when they win they find it very difficult to collect their money,” – Fletcher said.

Paul Fletcher also emphasized the unregulated nature of such platforms and the associated risks for the customers. “So these sites will take real money, but they won’t pay out. They’re not licensed or regulated in Australia. That means they don’t have consumer safeguards in place, it also means they’re not paying any tax and they’re not contributing towards, for example, the cost of regulating the racing industry in Australia,” – Fletcher commented. 

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), will use its resources and powers to block access to such illegal gambling platforms after carrying out a thorough investigation. “It will be moving quickly to block at least one website in the short term and it will be actively exercising its powers in response to complaints,” – Fletcher said. This is a logical step after New South Wales premier, Barry O’Farrel’s review in 2015 that urged the regulators to implement measures against illegal gambling sites.

In 2017, the lawmakers passed legislation that endowed ACMA with powers that would allow it to follow through with the current plan. Fletcher commented on this, saying – “This is not a silver bullet but it’s part of a whole range of measures that we have taken since the O’Farrell review.

Whenever an area is regulated by both the Commonwealth and states and territories, as is the case for gambling, it requires the Commonwealth and state and territory governments to work together to agree the arrangements and that takes some time.”

Australia is thought to be the world’s biggest gambling country when you consider spending per capita. According to the government, Australians spend nearly $400 million a year on gambling sites. This means that there is $100 million in forgone tax revenue that would otherwise be collected had the activity occurred within the frameworks of the law. With the recent measures, the activity could be redirected to the legal gambling sites or land-based casinos which would return this tax revenue back to the country. 

“Enforcing Australian laws against offshore companies is challenging. There is no single measure that will be successful in every case. “Blocking access to websites sends a strong message that the ACMA can and will take action to stop illegal operators from targeting vulnerable Australians.” – said ACMA chair Nerida O’Louglin. The organization has already begun blocking some websites but the messages it sent over the last couple of years were enough to make 65 illegal operators withdraw from the Australian market.