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ACMA's New Trick: BLOCKING Casino-Promoting Websites

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It’s no secret that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has been taking a hard line against what it views as illegal gambling websites. It was only a little earlier on in 2021 that it blocked 25 additional online gambling platforms, taking the total of blacklisted URLs to around 263 at that time. As of now, there are around 280 websites being blocked. In defence of its actions, the ACMA said that it found those services to be operating in breach of the country’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

As if blocking specific gambling sites wasn’t enough, the ACMA has taken things a step further in its fight against offshore casinos, sportsbooks, poker rooms and so on. The latest move from the authority has been to block access to websites that promote and drive traffic towards online gaming platforms, also known as affiliates. Through its own enforced unison with Australia’s internet service providers (ISPs), the block on several promotional sites was requested. Those informational websites often contain casino reviews along with links to the casinos in question.

ACMA Blocking Affiliate Websites

Seven Sites Blocked as a Priority

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The ACMA stated that it is a priority for it to block these marketing sites as they serve up direct links to what it determines are illegal gambling services. It highlighted the fact that these sites also often receive a commission for providing players with a direct route to the casinos they feature. The ISPs of Australia have been requested to block the following sites by the ACMA:

  • Aussie Casino Hex
  • Australia OK Casinos
  • Aussie Online Pokies
  • Pokies
  • Australian Casino Club
  • Australian Gambling
  • True Blue Casinos

Speaking of the decision to block these sites, ACMA Authority Member Fiona Cameron said that it serves as a key next step towards completely disrupting major illegal gambling operators. She also highlighted that the blocking of those websites will help with minimising gambling-related harm to the Australian public. She commented:

These marketing sites can push you to illegal gambling services that do not have the protections that go with licensed and regulated services. We often get complaints from consumers that winnings are not honoured and that incentives and pressure tactics target problem gamblers.

Fiona CameronACMA Authority Member Fiona Cameron

ACMA's Enforcement Activities

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The ACMA has taken on additional responsibilities since 2017, following the introduction of amendments to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. Some have questioned exactly how effective the new strategies of the ACMA have been though. Swiftly after the new legislation was introduced, multiple gambling sites pulled out of the Australian market, including popular companies like the 888 brand and PokerStars.

To date, the enforcement of new laws has led to 279 gambling websites being blocked, 144 companies completely pulling their services from Australia and, according to the ACMA, a 95% reduction in traffic at the top ten gambling websites blocked to June 2021.

Clamping Down on Gambling Sites with an Iron Fist

The ACMA has taken its enhanced role very seriously since gaining the extra powers in 2017. And as well as blocking access to what it determines as illegal gambling sites, it has also proceeded with introducing a self-exclusion program in Australia. For this, it needed to select an appropriate partner to get the job done, and it appointed Engine Australia to deliver on that project. Through that, gamblers have the chance to proceed with excluding themselves from all licensed betting options within Australia in a single process.

However, while that has been locked upon with favourable responses, other procedures that the ACMA has undertaken have not had such a good reaction. Even though the authority published a report in 2018 that explained it was satisfied with how things had been handled so far, the Australian Online Poker Alliance was highly sceptical of the moves it had made. Prior to the amendment of the country’s Interactive Gambling Act, this player advocacy group stood in opposition to it from the get-go. Ever since, it has been working towards having poker relegalised in Australia.

Founding member of the Australian Online Poker Alliance, Joseph Del Duca, made mention of the fact that while some unlicensed operators had left Australia’s shores, they were simply replaced by others. Del Duca had spoken with numerous Australian poker players who had all noted that they had simply switched from playing at the blocked sites to new ones. And this is something he believed would continue happening in the country too. Unfortunately, the sites that players had relocated to were often highly inferior to the departed ones.

Licensed Betting Operators Feel the Sting Too

However, the ACMA didn’t only tackle illegal gambling operations but licensed gaming within Australia as well. A point of consumption tax was introduced, meaning that internet sportsbooks must pay additional sums depending upon where their customers are located. As of Jan. 1, 2019, the state of Victoria passed its own 8% PoC tax.

A tougher set of restrictions were introduced on the advertising of gambling products towards the end of March 2018, too. These prohibited broadcasters from airing betting ads while covering sporting events. Furthermore, the National Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF) was created, which the government suggested was to safeguard the country’s public from any ill outcomes of online wagering. As a part of the NCPF, 10 elements were put in place, including bans on lines of credit for gambling and the aforementioned self-exclusion registry.

With all the restrictions introduced in the country, it’s easy to wonder whether the ACMA is actually concerned about protecting its people or if it just wants to abolish internet gambling altogether.

Online Poker and Other Gambling Still Active in Australia

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Thanks to the fact that a large number of trustworthy gambling platforms departed Australia’s shores, and have continued to do so since 2017, many people think that the country to be a little barren in terms of safe poker rooms. Fortunately, to assist you in figuring out which sites are the best for you, we have some recommendations that can provide a secure and entertaining service. Check out our guide to the best Australia-friendly online poker rooms.

Within that page, you will find details of some of the most recommended poker platforms that still cater to the Australian market. If you're more interested in the legal aspects of playing online poker, then you can head over to our overview of Australian online poker law to reassure yourself that merely playing on offshore sites is not against the law.