The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will force ISPs to block illegal offshore gambling websites.
Nerida O’Loughlin, ACMA chair, said it is targeting sites that are in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act, but continue to be used by Australians.
“In many cases these sites refuse to pay significant winnings, or only a small portion,” O’Loughlin said.
“Customers have also experienced illegal operators continuing to withdraw funds from their bank account without authorisation.
“There is little to no recourse for consumers engaging with these unscrupulous operators.
“If you have funds deposited with an illegal gambling site, you should withdraw those funds now.”
ACMA has a list of registered gambling providers that will not be affected.
According to the regulator, more than 65 companies have stopped offering online gambling in Australia since ACMA began enforcing illegal offshore gambling rules in 2017.
“The ability to have ISPs block illegal websites will be a valuable additional weapon in the ACMA’s arsenal in the fight against illegal online gambling,” O’Loughlin said.
“We have achieved this through working with other regulatory agencies, placing directors of these gambling sites on the Department of Home Affairs Movement Alert List and notifying regulators in the home countries of the sites.
“Public education is also crucial in deterring Australians from using these sites, given many illegal offshore gambling websites target Australians by using Australian themes and images, such as the Australian flag and native animals.”
Illegal gambling is the latest target of Australia’s website-blocking regime.
In August, the government said it would continue directing ISPs to block websites that hosted videos of the Christchurch massacre.
The government has previously taken aim at piracy websites, forcing ISPs to block access to sites like The Pirate Bay that offer access to copyrighted material.
Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety, and the Arts, Paul Fletcher, said that the latest internet blocking measures were appropriate in scope.
“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,” he said.
“Up to $400 million is spent annually by Australians on illegal gambling websites, accounting for around $100 million in lost tax revenue each year.”
However, the government’s crackdown on illegal websites isn't full-proof as current methods of blocking sites can be bypassed by use of a VPN or the Tor network.