The Australian Communications and Media Authority, also known as ACMA, has spent most of the past few years enforcing Australian gambling law and regulations. On April 19, 2023 The ACMA has issued a formal warning to a streaming service known as Kayo for violating rules related to gambling advertisements.
On the same date, April 19, The ACMA also blocked access to four other allegedly illegal online gambling websites. The ACMA has been steadily increasing this type of enforcement in an attempt to stop offshore operators from offering internet gambling services to Australians.
The ACMA regulates gaming in Australia
The ACMA has primary responsibility for the enforcement of the Interactive Gambling Act, which refers to all existing regulations and rules that potential Australian gambling operators must follow. The main tactic ACMA uses is to ask countries’ ISPs to block access to specific URLs. As we will discuss a little later in this article, the success of these efforts seems questionable at best.
In fact, the unfortunate truth is that the ACMA has taken a hard line against all offshore online gambling operators. Apart from a few sportsbooks currently operating, it is impossible for an offshore operator to obtain a license that would allow them to offer online gambling to Australian consumers.
In addition to blocking sites deemed illegal, the ACMA is also responsible for enforcing gambling-related advertising rules. One example of this came when the agency fined BetDeluxe $50,172 for violating advertising rules and regulations.
The ACMA issues a formal warning to the sports streaming service
In Australia, gambling advertisements are not permitted to be broadcast during sporting events taking place between 5am and 8.30pm under Section 12 of the ACMA Online Rules. Gambling advertisers are also prohibited from running ads within five minutes of the start or end of an event.
According to the ACMA and the investigation, a streaming service called Kayo has received an official warning after the brand ran banned gambling ads within 5 minutes before an Australian Football League event and during scheduled ad breaks.
The event in question occurred on 22 May 2022 when Fremantle played against Collingwood. A company called Streamotion, which is the provider of the Kayo Sports service, has received a formal warning from the ACMA.
In the document, the ACMA said it had received evidence that service provider Kayo Sports had broadcast two advertisements for Sportsbet, a popular Australian online gambling company. The two ads were delivered to end users in Australia during scheduled breaks and in the 5 minutes before the match.
Nerida O’Loughlin is Chair of the ACMA. She had a few things to say about the recent warning and investigation:
Streaming services must follow the rules in the same way traditional broadcasters do, advertising gambling during live sport is a major concern for Australians.
Families want to watch live sports without worrying that children may perceive gambling as part of the game.
ACMA blocked four more sites
In addition to issuing warnings, the ACMA has also been busy blocking gambling sites, as it has done many times over the past few years. This time the ACMA asked Australian ISPs to block four additional allegedly illegal online gambling websites. The four blocked sites are Firefox casinoRich Prize, Heaps O Wins and Shazam Casino.
As is the case with the majority of these cases, all four sites added to the blacklist offer casino games such as slots to Australians. Taking a closer look at one of the sites, Firefox casinowe should be able to get an idea of what the blocked sites offer.
As we can see, the Firefox Casino site offers games like slots designed by the long-time manufacturer, Real Time Gaming. Despite the popularity and legitimacy of many of these sites, the ACMA maintains that the sites are illegal and continues to blacklist URLs.
Since the ACMA first blocked access to sites in November 2019, 723 sites have already been added to the infamous blacklist. In addition, over 200 gambling operators have chosen to exit the Australian market. That being said, one important question remains. Why is the ACMA doing this?
What’s the point?
While the ACMA claims these efforts are to protect Australian consumers and enforce gambling laws, we can’t help but question whether these types of measures are having the intended impact. Let’s take a closer look at the ACMA’s latest enforcement actions.
ACMA has consistently blacklisted operators, such as when it added Pokizino and several other sites to the dreaded list in December 2022. ACMA also blocks affiliate marketing sites, such as when it blocked No Deposit Kings and several other sites in March this year.
As mentioned, now there is 723 blacklisted gambling sites. The problem here is that of the 723 sites on this blacklist, many are still operating as normal and offering gambling to Australian users. This is most often achieved by the operator simply creating a new URL.
An excellent example of this is Joe Fortune Casino. Joe Fortune is a highly reputable gambling operator who has been offering gambling to Australians for many years. Joe Fortune has over ten URLs currently on the ACMA blacklist of blocked sites. Despite this fact, Joe Fortune’s business operations continue as usual, with the site creating new URLs to circumvent these actions, with the ACMA seemingly giving up on pursuing the biggest operators.
Another concern is that there is the potential for the ACMA to steer customers away from reliable and trustworthy operators. By adding sites like Ignition and Joe Fortune to the list repeatedly without any other enforcement efforts, it seems doubtful what positive impact the ACMA’s efforts could have. Instead, blocking these types of sites can lead customers who wish to gamble to unknowingly play on a shadier and potentially lower-quality site.
You can play poker and bet online safely in Australia
Although the ACMA has managed to make the online gambling area in Australia a bit confusing and disjointed, there are still safe places to play poker and gamble online for Australians. If you are a poker player in Australia and are looking for a reliable option to play, please feel free to check out our guide to online poker in Australia.
Maybe you prefer a spin on a slot or a hand of blackjack? If so, there are also a number of reliable and trustworthy online casinos still serving Australians. Please feel free to head over to this extensive guide to online casinos in Australia to learn more. Our top casino recommendation is Joe Fortune Casino. You can check out this detailed Joe Fortune Casino review to learn all about the games and promotions available at this Aussie-friendly site.