The Australian government will force ISPs to block illegal offshore gambling websites

Australia is cracking down on illegal gambling websites. Image: Getty.
  • For the first time, the Australian Communications and Media Authority will work with Australian internet providers to block illegal offshore gambling websites.
  • Minister for Communications, Paul Fletcher said Australians spend up to $400 million a year on illegal gambling websites.
  • The new measures are the third and final part of gambling reforms the federal government introduced since a review in 2015.

Australia is cracking down on illegal gambling websites.

For the first time, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will use its powers to work together with Australian internet service providers (ISPs) to block illegal offshore gambling websites.

It comes after reports that Australians often have trouble getting their winnings and deposits from these offshore sites.

Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, said in a statement that Australians spend up to $400 million a year on illegal gambling sites, which accounts for around $100 million in lost tax revenue a year.

“Too often these offshore operators are defrauding Australians – and their websites typically provide very few, if any, harm minimisation controls,” Fletcher said.

“While ACMA has a range of powers to protect Australians from illegal gambling services – including issuing formal warnings and seeking civil penalty orders – it can be difficult to take direct action against faceless companies with no legal presence on our shores.”

Under the new measures, ACMA will investigate suspicious sites and – where its other enforcement actions don’t work – refer them to be blocked by ISPs.

The ban is the third and final part of the online gambling reforms the federal government brought in following the Review into Illegal Offshore Wagering back in 2015. Conducted by former New South Wales premier Barry O’Farrell, the review sought to address concerns about illegal offshore gambling operators.

Following the review, the government rolled out the first stage of reforms: it passed the Interactive Gambling Amendment Act 2017 which gave ACMA the power to prevent the advertising of illegal online gambling services.

The second stage was the creation of the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering which outlined protections for Australians who take part in online gambling.

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