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Australia IP Blocks Gambling Sites Via Telecom Act s313

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In a bid to stop illegal gambling sites from providing their services to the country’s market, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced plans to exert its powers over Internet Service Providers (ISPs). By utilising section 313 of the Telecommunications Act, it will command the nation’s ISPs to block access to any offshore gambling sites that violate the terms of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. This new enforcement mechanism was announced by the ACMA on its website on Nov. 11, 2019.

ACMA LogoThe Australian Communications and Media Authority Has Enforcement Powers Over the Online Gaming Industry

Australia Tightens Its Grip on Internet Gambling

Squeezing Ball

In contemplating what effect this move might have going forward, it’s important to remember what the legislation is within the country at the moment. The 2001 Interactive Gambling Act was heralded as a way of trying to ensure that casino gaming and poker betting over the internet were made illegal for Australians. However, operators were able to exploit a loophole in the way that the law was worded, and so sites were still able to successfully operate within the country.

That changed with the introduction of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2016 (actually passed in 2017), which tightened up the language thereby making it harder for companies to offer residents of Australia access to online gambling. It was this same bill that sent shockwaves through the entire Australian gambling industry when it was introduced. Nevertheless, the difficulty in enforcing the provisions of this law meant that some offshore gambling sites allowed Australians to continue accessing and signing up to their gambling services.

Yet, this doesn’t seem to have deterred the Australian authorities in their attempts to control the gambling market in a stronger way. Despite the fact that almost all of these offshore platforms provide their services to Australian bettors fairly, the spectre of cheating sites that confiscate customers' funds is being used as an excuse to block IP addresses.

The ACMA Speaks Out on the Decision

Man With Megaphone

Speaking on the decision by the ACMA to have ISPs block illegal offshore gambling sites, the Chair of this body, Nerida O’Loughlin, had the following to say:

We have been targeting illegal gambling services we know are active in the Australian market through complaints received and monitoring. But we expect that list of sites will grow as we investigate more.

The ability to have ISPs block illegal websites will be a valuable additional weapon in the ACMA’s arsenal in the fight against illegal online gambling.

Ms O’Loughlin continued by saying that in many cases, such sites that provide their illegal gambling activities to Australians refuse to pay out their winnings, and often if they do, it’s only a small portion of the actual amount won. At the same time, she drew attention to the fact that some players had made mention of certain sites continuing to take money from players’ bank accounts without having authorisation to do so.

Nerida O'LoughlinNerida O'Loughlin, Chair of the ACMA

“There is little to no recourse for consumers engaging with these unscrupulous operators,” O'Loughlin elaborated. “If you have funds deposited with an illegal gambling site, you should withdraw those funds now,” were her words of advice to Australia’s gamblers.

ACMA Seemed Satisfied with the Effects of IGBA16

This raises the question of how well the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2016 actually worked in stemming the flow of offshore operators illicitly offering their services to Australia. In 2018, the ACMA issued a report on its activities, and at the time, it seemed satisfied with how it had performed in enforcing the law.

In fact, the ACMA said that in the year since the amendment had come into effect, a total of 33 of the most popular gaming sites that were operational within the country had chosen to withdraw. It went on to say that that result was a consequence of 77 investigations that it conducted as part of a unified collective of complaints and inquiries from the public as well as its own initiative. Of the firms that had been transacting in the country, 888 Poker decided to take its business elsewhere as of Jan. 16, 2017 with PartyPoker taking up a similar decision by Aug. 31 of the same year and other operators following suit.

As things stand now, more than 65 companies have chosen to pull out of the Australian market since the introduction of the amended bill at the start of 2017. The directors of some sites have also been added to the Department of Home Affairs Movement Alert List – a computer database that stores biographic details of the identities of anyone who may be an immigration concern to the country. At the same time, the ACMA has taken the opportunity to reach out to the regulators within the home countries of those sites to cooperate with them against what they perceive to be violations of the law.

There's plenty of evidence, though, that driving law-abiding concerns out of the country merely opens the door to shadier and less responsible actors. For instance, many players are turning to agent-based mobile apps, such as PPPoker, which subject users to the possibility of being defrauded if their agent turns out to be dishonest as was the case with NYPokerKing and his enterprise.

How Will the ISP Blocking Take Place?


A part of Australia’s Telecommunications Act of 1997, section 313 states:

313 Obligations of carriers and carriage service providers

    (1) A carrier or carriage service provider must, in connection with:
       (a) the operation by the carrier or provider of telecommunications networks or facilities; or
       (b) the supply by the carrier or provider of carriage services;
do the carrier’s best or the provider’s best to prevent telecommunications networks and facilities from being used in, or in relation to, the commission of offences against the laws of the Commonwealth or of the States and Territories.

It is also mentioned that carriers must do their best to protect networks from “unauthorised interference or unauthorised access” so as to ensure security.

By using this section of the Act, the ACMA is able to ask ISPs to block various offshore sites that it believes are a threat to the security of the country and its people. Each of the blocks requested need to be approved by the chair, deputy chair, or a senior executive of the ACMA, and those requests also expire after what was noted as a “specified time.”

ACMA Blocking Gaming Sites

Online Poker Still Remains Accessible in Australia

Hole Cards + Casino Chips

It’s one thing to mention that the banning of online gambling within Australia is the aim of the ACMA. However, it’s quite another to succeed in doing this, and despite Communications Minister Paul Fletcher stating that up to AUD$400 million ($273 million) is being spent on offshore gambling sites by residents (resulting in a loss of tax income for the government), they still remain in operation because it's legally very difficult to do anything effective against brands that are located elsewhere, beyond the jurisdiction of the authorities. Indeed, the recent plans of the ACMA to block foreign gaming websites appear to yet be in their infancy as evidenced by the fact that the list of blocked websites currently contains only two entries: Emu Casino and Fair Go Casino.

Even though multiple brands have pulled out of the Australian market, alternative foreign-based sites are still available for avid poker players to join. We have our own online guide for you to read and find a dedicated poker room to sign up to if you’re an Australian player.