ACMA Blocks 8 Illegal Gambling Platforms

ACMA Blocks 8 Illegal Gambling Platforms

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has blocked eight illegal gambling websites. Investigations of the Australian gambling authority revealed that these companies were operating in violation of Australian gambling law. The Australian regulator is allowed to blacklist illegal online casinos and block access.

Since 2019, when the ACMA was granted the authority to shut down illegal online casinos targeting Australian players, it has shown to be stringent and consequent. To date, the ACMA has blocked a total of 975 non regulated gambling sites on the Australian net, with 220 operators permanently exiting the Australian market. The government backed gambling authority has announced that it will continue to block international platforms.

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Lacking Player Protection

The Australian regulator has announced the blocking and blacklisting of eight new illegal online casinos on its website. The most recent international gambling sites to be banned by the ACMA are: Jogi Casino, Dundee Slots Casino, Spin Fever Casino, Clubhouse Casino, Winport Casino, Lucky Hunter Casino, Lucky Wins Casino, and Lukki Casino.

The regulator emphasises that it may be difficult to recognise a non-licensed casino. Playing at offshore casino websites will leave visitors unprotected. This means that the Australian legislature cannot intervene if issues arise, such as a provider failing to pay out winnings.

The same is true for a lacking responsible gambling policy. The ACMA also reminds gambling enthusiasts in the country that it is unlikely that a non-licenced casino will provide adequate player protection. Non regulated casinos are less likely to let players set limits such as account limits, loss limits, deposit limits and session limits. Non-licensed casinos also tend to work with lower withdrawal limits which can lead to complications in case of major wins.

Australian players are always advised to verify whether a gambling service is licensed to operate in Australia. This can be done in the official ACMA register which only requires the visitor to insert the web address of the gambling site.

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Internationally Operated Gambling Platforms

Most websites operate without an Australian gambling licence and are based in countries like Curaçao and Costa Rica. In order to legally operate in Australia, a gambling operator is required to obtain a locally issued licence. In New Zealand, offshore casinos, however, are allowed to offer their services and target local players who meet the minimum age requirement of 18 years. On the contrary, it is not allowed for a locally established operator to offer an online casino in our country. This has pushed land-based operator SkyCity Auckland Casino to Malta where it obtained a local licence which it uses to target Kiwis.

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“Unsuitable to Hold a Licence”

At the same time, land-based operator Star Entertainment still reports operational problems. The gambling company has been granted additional time to demonstrate its suitability to operate land-based casinos in Queensland, following a further delay in the planned suspension of its licence.

In December 2022, Queensland authorities sanctioned Star Entertainment for multiple failings, imposing a fine of AU$100 million (NZ$ 108m) and announcing a licence suspension. This action followed an investigation into operations at Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane, concluding that Star was “unsuitable to hold a licence” in Queensland.

Initially, Star was given 12 months to address the issues identified by investigators and prove its suitability. The original deadline of 1 December 2023 was extended to 31 May this year after Star submitted a draft remediation plan. This plan includes commitments to approximately 640 milestones across 15 workstreams. The casino’s board of directors has stated that it will take “several years to implement all the proposed measures”.

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Licence Suspension Postponed

Just two weeks before the extended deadline, the suspension has been postponed again. The potential licence suspension will now not take effect until 20 December this year. Queensland’s attorney-general, Yvette D’Ath MP, has approved this extension.

The widely criticised decision to extend the deadline a second time coincides with the launch of the Second Bell inquiry in February, which is investigating Star’s activities in New South Wales (NSW). Queensland authorities have decided to wait for the results of this inquiry before making a final decision on Star’s gambling licence.

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“Unsuitable to Hold a Licence”

Many of the failings in Queensland were notably similar to those highlighted in Adam Bell SC’s report on Star in New South Wales, where Star was also deemed unsuitable to hold a gambling licence. Key issues include Star’s “concerted effort” to intentionally mislead banks, financial institutions, and regulators about the purpose of China UnionPay transactions, which authorities state violates Chinese capital flight laws.

Star Entertainment is believed to further exacerbate concerns by seeking out and encouraging individuals linked to criminal organisations to gamble, disregarding the advice of local authorities. Investigators also uncovered significant shortcomings in their policy regarding social responsibility, anti-money laundering, and counter-terrorism financing practices. Additionally, there were concerns about Star’s past dealings with junket operators.

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