ACMA, or Australian Communications and Media Authorityand Northern Territory Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade (DITT) have agreed to a Memorandum of Understandingor Memorandum of Understanding, in an effort to facilitate cooperation in the regulation of gambling across Australia.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) regulates internet gambling in Australia under the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA), which has been amended many times.
The Northern Territory of Australia, through its Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade together with the Northern Territory Racing Commission, licenses and regulates Australian bookmakers under the Racing and Wagering Act 1983. Through this Memorandum of Understanding published on 2 March 2023 ., the two agencies have agreed to work together in cooperation on matters of gambling compliance monitoring, law enforcement and education.
What is the Interactive Gambling Act?
Australia switched to Interactive Gambling Act 2001 on 28 June 2001. The Act primarily targets internet gambling operators offering real money gambling services to Australian consumers. Outside of sports betting, the IGA effectively bans all online gambling operators from serving Australians.
The IGA was amended in 2017 and then again in 2019 in an effort to tighten restrictions and even tougher measures against online gambling operators. Since last modified, ACMA is on a tearadding site after site to its ever-growing blacklist of alleged “illegal” gambling websites.
In late 2019, the ACMA first announced it would begin enforcement by ordering Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block Australian citizens from accessing specific online gambling sites it deemed illegal through the Telecommunications Act s313.
Does the Northern Territory currently regulate gambling?
The Northern Territory of Australia, through its Department of Industry, Tourism and Trade, is responsible for the regulation of betting on horse racing, greyhound and dog racing and all sports betting in the Northern Territory of Australia.
The Racing and Betting Act 1983 is the legislation for which the Northern Territory is primarily responsible for enforcement. The Racing and Betting Act 1983 is a very detailed piece of legislation with a total of 134 pages.
Without getting too caught up in the nuances and details of this document, the Racing and Betting Act sets out all the rules relating to betting on horse and dog racing, sports betting and operator licensing requirements in Australia’s Northern Territory.
The ACMA has stepped up enforcement recently
The ACMA is constantly pushing for the implementation of the amended Interactive Gambling Act, which is the current legislation that governs and regulates gambling in Australia. Over the past few years, the main tactic used by the ACMA has been to ask ISPs to block citizens from accessing suspected illegal online gambling websites.
There are numerous examples of this kind of application of the ACMA as it stands now nearly 700 blacklisted gambling sites. Earlier this year ACMA blocked six sites including Pokie Surf and then blocked Pokizino and ABA Lucky 33 shortly after.
The ACMA is also cracking down on unsolicited spam, such as when the agency recently fined BetDeluxe $50,172 for sending gambling ads via SMS messages that either did not contain the sender’s details or did not allow users to unsubscribe.
ACMA and NTDITT agree to a Memorandum of Understanding
In reviewing the memorandum of understanding, it becomes a bit unclear what this agreement actually entails. Simply put, it is an agreement between the two parties to work with each other, share information and assist each other in enforcing the rules and regulations currently in place.
There are two points in the document that give a clearer picture of what this memorandum means for Australian consumers. Point 3 covers the purpose and scope of the memorandum, while Point 4, Statement of Intent, provides further clarity.
As we can see, the purpose and scope of this memorandum seems a little unclear, but it is clear that there are many gambling-related matters in which ACMA and DITT share a common interest, as DITT is responsible for licensing some of Australia’s largest bookmakers. The two agencies have agreed to co-operate on matters relating to gambling licensing, self-exclusion and unsolicited communications, such as the ACMA’s recent action against BetDeluxe.
Looking at point 4, we can also see a statement of intent that articulates exactly what the two agencies plan to accomplish through this memorandum.
The MoU also indicates that the two agencies will work together and cooperate to tackle problem gambling. ACMA and DITT say they will work to introduce BetStop, a tool problem gamblers can use to stop themselves from gambling.
The effectiveness of BetStop is questionable because gamblers who suffer damage and losses never get a refund, but it is certainly important to offer problem gamblers resources and ways to disengage from online gambling.
Safe gambling and poker exist in Australia today
Although the ACMA and the Northern Territory may seem somewhat daunting to the average player, individual gamblers should have nothing to worry about. ACMA and the Northern Territory work to protect consumers and to this end the agencies only target gambling operators and large companies.
In reality, nothing has changed with this new MoU. Australian users can still play poker safely online. If you are an Australian and are interested in learning more about the best online poker options, please feel free to check out this comprehensive guide to internet poker in Australia.
For all Australians who are more interested in playing casino games such as pokies (slot machines), table games, live dealer games or specialty games such as bingo, you can consult this guide to the best online casinos serving the Australians. While there are a number of reputable casinos still serving Aussies, Joe Fortune is our top recommendation because it boasts an excellent selection of games, the site offers solid bonuses and is affiliated with long-standing brands Ignition and Bovada.