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9 More Aussie Online Gaming Sites Blocked by ACMA

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It wasn’t so long ago that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) made the announcement of its plans to exercise its powers over Internet Service Providers to stop gambling sites that don't hold a valid Australian license from offering their services to the country. And it appears as though those plans have not only been set in motion but remain in full force as news of nine offshore gambling platforms being blocked has been confirmed.

A selection of foreign-based websites is now unable to provide services to residents of Australia due to this development. The news was announced on the ACMA's website on Jan. 13, 2020.

ACMA Blocks More Gaming Sites

About the Blocked Sites

The nine URLs to be blocked are as follows:

  • roocasino.com
  • gwcasino.com
  • wagerbeat.com
  • joefortune.com
  • ignitioncasino.eu
  • casinodingo.com
  • auslots.com
  • topbet.eu
  • xbet.ag

The ACMA claimed that it has received in excess of 79 complaints with regard to the nine blocked sites, and the government has advised Australian citizens to withdraw any remaining funds that they may have at any of the platforms. In the released statement, the ACMA said that their investigations had:

…found these services to be operating in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

Those nine sites are the latest to be blocked by the ACMA, following in line with the blocking of Emu Casino and Fair Go Casino in November 2019.  Emu Casino has since pulled out of the Australian market in general, but any remaining Australian customers can still withdraw funds by contacting customer support.

Alongside Emu Casino, around 90 gaming companies have chosen to leave the Australian market since 2017. It was at that time that certain rules surrounding offshore platforms were brought into effect, making it harder for them to provide their services in the country.

A Series of Expulsions

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In 2016, the ACMA got to benefit from the implementation of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill (IGAB). Through the expanded powers granted it to police online wagering activities, it was able to conduct a series of investigations, performed both on its own initiative and via complaints and inquiries from the general public.

ACMA LogoThe ACMA Is Tasked With Overseeing the Online Gambling Industry in Australia

When the ACMA finds organisations that it deems are transacting in violation of the gambling laws, it pursues a number of stratagems. First of all, the management of the sites in question typically receive letters ordering them to cease their activities voluntarily. If this doesn't work, bureaucrats from the Australian government often liaise with their counterparts around the world to put pressure on online gaming firms within their home jurisdictions. Finally, the newest arrow in the ACMA's quiver is IP blocking.

The IGAB became effective in 2017, and one year after that, the ACMA published a report on the outcome of its efforts so far. In that report, the ACMA seemed to be quite satisfied with how things were progressing. In fact, it went so far as to state that since the amendment had come into effect, 33 of the most popular internet gambling companies that had been operational in Australia had taken the decision to withdraw.

Of these corporations, 888 Poker was one of the first to leave, choosing to exit the country on Jan. 16, 2017. Others followed with PartyPoker opting for a similar decision as 888 by the end of August in the same year. Over time, more brands have found themselves either leaving of their own accord or being kicked out by the ACMA, such as PokerStars, Vera & John, Intertops, and 32Red.

Gaming Sites That Have Left AustraliaSome of the Poker and Casino Corporations That Have Quit the Australian Market

ACMA Exerts Its Power Over ISPs

Wanting to make sure that it had additional routes to take with regard to offshore entities providing their services to Australian citizens, the ACMA announced certain plans to extend its powers over the country’s ISPs on Nov. 11, 2019. By using Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act, the organisation is able to command all ISPs to interfere with the public's access to these internet gaming parlours.

Section 313 of the Telecommunications Act requires all carriers or carriage service providers to do their best to prevent telecommunications networks and facilities from being used “in, or in relation to, the commission of offences” against Australia. Additionally, carriers are required to do their best in protecting networks from “unauthorised interference or unauthorised access.”

Through this, the ACMA can communicate with ISPs and request that they block a selection of foreign-based sites that it considers to be a threat to the nation’s security. Each of the blocks that the ACMA requests must also be approved by the chair, deputy chair, or a senior executive of the ACMA.

Nanny State's Noble Intentions Backfiring?

The ACMA's satisfaction with its “progress” may turn out to be quite short-lived in the grand scheme of things. It has been well-proven that if there are few state-regulated options available for certain outlets, people will instead turn their attention to less-responsible and -trustworthy possibilities. Witness the proliferation of mobile poker apps, using a club-and-agent model, that leave users' cash in the hands of a few key individuals who often turn out to be unreliable as the case of NYPokerKing demonstrated.

Driving ordinary Australians into the hands of shadier operators is probably not what either the drafters of the IGAB or the ACMA have in mind. Yet, it's one of the inevitable consequences of governments believing that they know better than individuals what forms of recreation ought to be encouraged or prohibited.

Making the ACMA's stance even more troublesome is that there is currently no mechanism for online poker and casino businesses to obtain licenses from any competent Australian authority. This is true for all enterprises whether domestic or foreign. There are online sportsbook and lottery licenses to be had, as well as a veritable bonanza of legally authorised live pokie machines, which almost assuredly pose a greater threat to the vulnerable than online gaming does.

Fortunately, there are still a number of reputable international gaming corporations that are willing to flout the ACMA's heavy-handed directives and continue to faithfully serve their Australian customers...for now.

Australian Government Going to a Lot of Trouble

Man Pushing Ball

While many countries deem offshore gambling sites as being unwelcome, only a few of them exert very much time and workload over controlling them. Australia’s government has taken to going that extra 500 miles to combat such sinful vices though. With the ACMA being given a wide range of powers already, which have seen it go after dozens of companies, the scope of brands able to provide their services in the country is certainly reducing.

Yet, it doesn’t seem like the organisation is finished with its eviction of what it considers unwanted sites. The Communications Minister, Paul Fletcher, has previously spoken of the annual spend on illegal gambling sites by Australians being about AU$400 million ($276m). That amounts to around AU$100 million ($69m) in lost taxes for the country in Fletcher's view. However, given the fact that there's no licensed market for Australian internet casino and poker operations set up at present, it's difficult to see how Fletcher intends to derive tax revenue from them.

Paul FletcherCommunications Minister Paul Fletcher Views IP Blocking as a Key Tool

Fletcher took aim at what he called “faceless companies” that have no legal presence in Australia. He spoke of it being difficult to take any kind of direct action against such operations despite the ACMA having quite a range of powers in its possession. However, he went on to state that with the possibility of being able to request ISP blocks now, there is a clearer route towards protecting Australians in a bigger and better way.

Two Prominent Names Mostly Unaffected by ACMA

Black Checkmark

Although the list of nine gaming sites proscribed by the ACMA consists mostly of smaller and lesser-known outfits, there are two that have made a good name for themselves in Australia. These two are Ignition Casino and Joe Fortune Casino both of which are partner sites of each other. Fortunately, we're happy to report that it's busines as usual at these two organisations.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher is right to be concerned about the ineffectual nature of the ACMA's quixotic battle. Blocking IP addresses is a tricky affair, especially for those of the mindset and intellect of your average bureaucrat, and these two reputable casinos have been easily able to circumvent the authorities' ham-fisted attempts at shutting them out of the country.

Offshore Gaming Opportunities Still Accessible in Australia

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As we've just mentioned, Ignition Casino and Joe Fortune Casino remain in normal operation without being negatively affected by anything the Australian government has done, so you can sign up at either one and play today. We've evaluated their offerings and find them to be among the best available to Aussies.

And you have nothing to fear personally because you won't be breaking any laws when you register an account and play. The IGAB and other relevant legislation only targets those who own and run the sites, not private individuals.

For further information, check out our review of the Ignition Poker room, which has an attached casino. If you're uninterested in poker and just want to enjoy Blackjack, Roulette, Baccarat, and other casino diversions, then you can read our detailed Joe Fortune Casino review.

There are a small number of other internet poker groups that continue to transact in The Land Down Under. For our recommendations as to the best among them, browse over to our complete guide to the top online poker sites for Australian players and see which one of them most appeals to you.