ACMA blocks further 12 websites in illegal gambling crackdown

By Robert Fletcher

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued blocking orders for a further 12 gambling websites it said have been operating in the country illegally.

Zebet, Zeturf, Slot Vibe, Arlekin Casino, Johnnie Kash Kings, Lucky Star, Horus Casino, 21 Dukes, Tangiers Casino, 7 Reels, Winward Casino and Thebes Casino were all found to have breached Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001, following a series of investigations by ACMA.

In response, ACMA requested that Australian internet service providers (ISPs) block access to each of the websites.

Since ACMA made its first website blocking request in November 2019, a total of 399 illegal sites have been blocked in the country.

In addition, the Authority said that more than 160 illegal operators have pulled out of the Australian market since ACMA began enforcing illegal offshore gambling rules in 2017.

“Website blocking provides a valuable opportunity to alert the public to illegal gambling services through the messaging that appears when there is an attempt to access the site,” ACMA said.

The latest blocking orders come after ACMA last week published a new report that showed more than 10% of Australians bet online at least once during the six months to June 2021.

The majority of these players gambled online, but 5% of online players admitted to using an offshore, unlicensed website or app in the six-month period.

Some 11% players aged 18-34 did so, while the figure was 2% for those 45 and over. A further 6% said they did not know where their service was located, while 89% only gambled with licensed operators.

Also this month, Sportsbet, the Australian brand of Flutter Entertainment, was ordered to pay out AU$3.7m (£2.0m/€243m/$2.7m) for spamming customers with text and email marketing.

The figure comprised an infringement notice of AU$2.5m – a record sum – and the operator committed to refunding customers AU$1.2m.

The settlement was agreed following an investigation by ACMA, which found that Sportsbet sent more than 150,000 marketing text messages and emails to over 37,000 consumers who had tried to unsubscribe.

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