ACMA seeks “significant” blocking of thepokies.net

| By Robert Fletcher
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has called on internet service providers (ISPs) in the country to block access to thepokies.net, describing it as one of its most “significant” blocking requests to date.

An ACMA investigation found the site was operating online casino style games, which are prohibited in Australia under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, and therefore makes the site illegal.

Given that payments to the site are estimated to run into tens of millions of dollars, while data from Similarweb showed there are around 30,000 Australian visitors to the site each month, ACMA said the blocking would be one of the highest profile since it began using this regulatory tool in November 2019.

“We have received more complaints about thepokies.net this year than any other illegal gambling website, and it is clearly doing a lot of harm to the Australian community,” ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin said.

“Complaints have ranged from people who have lost significant amounts of money through to the site refusing to honour deposits and winnings. By blocking access to sites like this we are sending a strong message that the ACMA can and will take action to stop illegal operators from targeting Australians.

“If one of these sites decides to keep your money, and we know that happens quite regularly, there is nothing you can do about it.”

Aside from website blocking, the ACMA’s strategy to disrupt illegal gambling also includes industry engagement, targeted enforcement and public education. More than 160 illegal services have pulled out of Australia since the ACMA began enforcing new illegal offshore gambling rules in 2017.

Meanwhile, the ACMA has also requested ISPs to block access to a number of other sites it said have been operating illegally in the country.

Azure Hand, Abo Casino, Betroom, 777Bay, Space Lilly, Jet Casino, Katsu Bet and Winz were all singled out by the ACMA as being in breach of regulations. 

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