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Online Casinos in Australia are Under Increased Government Pressure

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Online casinos are prohibited in Australia, so if anyone comes across a website that offers these activities, it’s almost certainly run by a foreign company, even if it appears to be based in Australia.

In Australia, offshore gambling websites are prohibited, and those who use them face more significant risks than those who bet with an Australian registered online casino provider.

Some illicit offshore gambling sites appear authentic, and they even use photos of the Australian flag and natural animals to give the impression that they are Australian.

These online casino sites are not permitted underneath the IG (Interactive Gambling) Act of 2001, which means they are not licensed or supervised in Australia and lack consumer protections.

Illegal gambling sites in other countries can include:

  • Games in the style of a Land-based Casino
  • Pokies
  • Betting on the results of lotteries or keno (‘synthetic’ lotteries), businesses that offer ‘in-play sports betting are not licensed by an Australian province or jurisdiction.

Many individuals will be unaware that these services appear to be accurate and lack critical client protections.

Utilizing these sites carries a significant level of risk. Users have complained to the ACMA about the following real-life instances:

  • Illegal operators allow you to deposit funds into your account through their site or app, but you will not be able to withdraw your winnings if you win.
  • Illegal operators close their doors or relocate their operations, and your investment vanishes.
  • When you cease utilizing an illegal provider, it keeps withdrawing money from the account without your knowledge.

After the government authority’s “whack-a-mole” attempt to prevent unlawful offshore gambling websites, web searches and traffic to illegal online casinos increased while Australia’s COVID-19 closure.

Even as pandemic pushed bars, clubs, and licensed casinos to close their doors, exclusive online traffic data from analytics firm SEMrush shows the number of web searches for “online pokies” in Australia increased from 12,100 in February to 40,500 in April.

According to SEMrush’s data, traffic from Australia to JokaRoom, one of the most popular and frequently marketed online casinos, nearly quadrupled from 606,407 visits in February to 1.2 million in April.

The keyword “(OCARM) online casino Australia real money” had a nearly 540 percent increase in online searches, while “Australian online casino reviews” saw a tenfold increase.

Since gaining the authority to do so in November, the Australian Communications and Media Authority has ordered internet service providers to prohibit 52 illicit online casino websites, warning that such websites regularly deceive customers while giving few, if there are any, harm minimization methods.

According to the representative, before COVID-19, industry statistics suggested that Australians were betting less on overseas websites.

The year before, the federal government calculated that Australians wasted approximately $400 million every year on online gambling websites, costing states roughly $100 worth of tax revenues if the money had gone to legitimate on-shore businesses. In 2018, Australians wasted $25 billion on gambling, with poker machines accounting for slightly over half of the total.

As poker machine sites closed, Alex Russell, a gambling researcher at Central Queensland University, predicted an increase in internet gambling. Players acclimated to rising online slots find online casino games more appealing than sports betting or lotteries.

“Gambling seems to be an addiction… having it taken away from you overnight is a big issue, so they’ll go for anything else,” he explained.

The more reputable casino websites appeared to be following the regulations and excluding Australians, leaving the “dodgy ones” who had been “actually quite glad to hide and steal your money,” according to Dr. Russell.

According to Monash University gambling and public health expert Charles Livingstone, trying to shut down illegal gaming websites was just like doing “whack-a-mole,” since new websites sprouted up anytime one has been blocked.

Professor Livingstone predicted a rise in online gambling spending during the COVID-19 lockdown but claimed his data, which he has yet to publish, did not imply that illegal casino sites were a big driver.

It is not against the law to play gambling in Australia; however, it is against sites to offer such service. New Zealand, for example, licenses and regulates online gambling.

According to the AIC, the proportion of persons gambling online decreased in March and April of the current year, so those who did gamble spent a lot of money.

In a poll of 1000 participants, 33% claimed they gambled more online in April than they did at the beginning of the year. One in every five people indicated they were gaming more online casino games, card games, and pokies in April than they had been at the beginning of the year.

The ACMA has increased its strategies to minimize unlawful internet gambling by removing content promoting and attracting traffic to online gambling sites.

For the first time, the ACMA has requested that Australian ISPs remove affiliate advertisement websites that pose as peer reviewers of gambling opportunities.

Fiona Cameron, an ACMA Authority Member, said that this is the next stage in stopping significant illicit enterprises and preventing risk to Buyers.

“These promotional sites can lead you to illicit online services that lack the same safeguards as licensed and regulated providers,” Ms. Cameron explained.

“We frequently receive complaints from customers alleging that winnings are not paid out, and that rewards and coercion tactics are used to target gambling addicts.”

Gambling sites on which you can engage slots, dice, or poker for money are examples of illegal online gambling businesses. The ACMA’s moves follow a flurry of activity since its powers were enhanced under the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 in 2017. The following are some of the outcomes:

  • 279 Unlawful Gaming Websites have Prohibited 144 Services from leaving Australia.
  • Connectivity to the top ten Gaming Websites will be reduced by 95% until June 2021.

The ACMA website has a list of unlawful gambling sites that have been prohibited. After focusing on online casinos targeting Australians in 2020–21, the ACMA is focused on gambling affiliate sites as a compliance priority for 2021–22.

The ACMA’s website has more information regarding online gambling, including a list of licensed electronic playing services to monitor legal assistance in Australia, tips on securing yourself from unlawful gambling sites, and filing a complaint against an online casino site.