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ACMA Blocking 2 Online Lottery Websites: MORE to Follow?

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When people think of online gambling, it’s usually poker or casino gaming or even sports betting that many call to mind. Lottery games often tend to go unnoticed in many cases although that’s not the case when it comes to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). Where this Authority is concerned, nothing in the online gambling world is forgotten about. And fresh from its continued efforts to block what it determines to be illegal offshore gambling companies via the Telecom Act s313, it has turned on two lottery sites too.

On Wednesday, Nov. 17, the ACMA made an announcement that it would be requesting Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Australia to block access to We Love Lotto and Red Fox Lotto. This effort marks the very first time that the authorities in Australia will block access to lottery sites since the ACMA was first given the power to do so towards the end of 2019.

ACMA Blocking Lottery Sites

Lottery Websites Offering Tickets to Overseas Players

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Speaking of the decision to block access to the two lottery websites, a member of the ACMA team, Fiona Cameron, said that an investigation had been conducted on We Love Lotto and Red Fox Lotto. The results discovered that both brands had been providing tickets to Aussie players in major overseas online lotteries.

Both of the lottery websites are based outside of the Australian borders. Red Fox Lotto operates from within Curacao, which is also where its official gambling license comes from. We Love Lotto, on the other hand, is operated by Ardua Ventures, basing itself out of Birmingham, U.K. It does not have any kind of U.K. license attached to its operation though. Regardless, both sites were found not to comply with the rules dictated in the Australian Interactive Gambling Act 2001. Speaking of the decision to block access to these sites via ISPs, Ms. Cameron said:

We Love Lotto and Red Fox Lotto are both operating illegally in Australia, meaning there are no consumer safeguards in place for players. Blocking illegal offshore sites protects Australians from potentially dodgy operators, where there is little or no recourse if things go wrong. Lottery services that are licensed in Australia and operating legally have important safeguards that consumers expect.

Fiona CameronAMCA Member Fiona Cameron

ACMA Chasing Illegal Websites for Some Time

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While it could be said that the two websites are making history as the very first lottery platforms to be blocked by the ACMA, it is by no means the first time the authorities have blacklisted gaming domains. This has been the standard course of action since 2019, and a large number of offshore casino-style websites have been the victims of it.

Just one month prior to the move to block these two lottery websites, the ACMA enforced its power over ISPs on five more foreign-based casino sites. And this has been the case throughout 2020 and 2021 with announcements made over multiple platforms being targeted by the authorities for illegal operations.

A report published on the same day that the two lottery websites were targeted displays the activity of the ACMA through the 2020-21 financial year. Throughout that timeframe, 55 online services were the victims of site blocking by the authorities in Australia. This, the ACMA says, resulted in a majority of these sites experiencing a severe decline of at least 90% in Australian visitors.

Ms. Cameron expressed her sincere delight for that outcome, which she said is “a positive impact” of the steps being taken by the ACMA in combating illegal online gambling.

A Journey Back in Time to Where It All Began

It was in 2017 that Australian legislators introduced the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill to law. Through this, supposed illegal offshore gambling operators could be addressed and dealt with if it was discovered that they do not possess an official Australian gambling license. Any company found to be violating the rules of the Act could be fined up to AU$7.9 million (US$5.7 million) per day.

There is no framework in place in Australia at the moment for online poker options, bingo, or casino gaming. So with the introduction of the amended act, all variations of those types of sites were instantly outlawed. The Australian government also provided the ACMA with the power to tackle and take down any company it deemed to be engaging in illegal gambling services to Aussie players. The ACMA swiftly took advantage of that power, and this led to multiple companies making the decision to pull out of the Australian market. Those companies included:

One year after the gambling amendment was introduced, the ACMA gave itself praise over how successful it believed it had been. Of course, some people were not quite as grateful over the alterations and the courses of action undertaken by the authorities. Some people suggested that it had simply meant that while legitimate services had been removed from Australia, riskier platforms had risen up in their places.

This led to the ACMA taking even more drastic action when it utilised its powers over Australian ISPs. And ever since then, it has been focused on blocking access to a mass of offshore casinos, poker rooms, bingo halls, and so on. And it doesn’t seem like the organisation is anywhere close to being finished with its efforts now that the two lottery sites mentioned are being targeted by it. Players should probably expect to see many more lottery brands added to the ever-growing collection of blacklisted sites in Australia.

ACMA's “Successes” Only Partial

Yet this website blocking has been labelled as only partially effective. While the ACMA talks a big game about itself and its successes, the blocking procedure in place via ISPs is not 100% guaranteed to stop Aussies from being able to access the sites involved. A variety of methods have been used by both players and operators to circumvent the blocks put in place by the ACMA.

These include such methods as changing the DNS settings on your computer and making use of a Virtual Private Network (VPN) to connect to offshore platforms.

Playing Online Real Money Games from Within Australia

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Despite the best efforts of the ACMA, many online gaming sites remain active and welcoming to Aussie gamers, and these are 100% legitimate and licensed offshore sites. Fortunately, a large number of these exist, and if you want to find one of the best poker rooms to play at, you can view our guide to the best online poker sites for Australian players by reading this online poker Australia focused research article. Many of these also incorporate a casino game section and sometimes a sportsbook for you to get involved in alongside their poker options.

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