The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is doubling down on its efforts to clean Australia’s internet of illegal gambling. After targeting sports betting and online casino websites for over two years now and discontinuing access to several high-profile affiliate businesses, the watchdog is now taking aim at illegal offshore lotteries. This comes on top of the five operators blocked in October.
Lotteries Come in ACMA’s Crosshair
Lotteries were enjoying relative freedom from the regulator, but this has now changed as an ACMA investigation has discovered that We Love Lotto and Red Fox Lotto, two popular lottery websites, have been targeting Australians by offering to purchase tickets for them in big overseas lotteries.
While the operation may have been legitimate, neither website has a recognized license to do so in Australia, leading to ACMA’s decision to ask internet service providers (ISPs) to suspend access to those sites from the country.
ACMA member Fiona Cameron argued that both websites had been operating illegally in the US and that there were no consumer safeguards for consumers. She added:
“Blocking illegal offshore sites protects Australians from potentially dodgy operators where there is little or no recourse if things go wrong. Lottery services that are licensed in Australia and operating legally have important safeguards that consumers expect.”
ACMA has been pushing for stricter control over the internet space in Australia, arguing that illegal websites have thrived in the vacuum left by a lack of offshore regulation. In the financial year of 2020-2021, ACMA has been able to block 55 illegal gambling services.
Many Operators Leave out of Their Volition
As the regulator has ramped up its efforts, some 156 offshore gambling companies have chosen to exit the market willingly rather than wait to be blocked by ACMA. ACMA was empowered by the Interactive Gambling Act 2001’s revision in September 2017, effectively allowing the watchdog to pursue much tougher action against illegal websites.
Cameron argued that the efforts ACMA has been putting in fighting illegal offshore gambling have been paying off and that the regulator was happy with the outcome so far. In September, ACMA found Foxtel guilty of breaching gambling advertising rules. There has been legal action against gambling websites almost every month, with ACMA not relenting from its end goal, which is to clean the country from illicit operators.