As part of ACMA’s (Australian Communications and Media Authority’s) standard business practices, the agency has been on a limb when it comes to blocking sites, issuing warnings and enforcing Australian gambling laws.
On 17 May 2023, the ACMA announced that it blocked 3 more alleged illegal gambling websites. In addition, the agency also reported that he issued an official warning to a company called CS:GO Roll to offer casino-style games featuring video game skins.
The Interactive Gambling Act 2001
The ACMA has really stepped up its enforcement actions over the past few years. The ACMA is primarily responsible for the enforcement of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. The Interactive Gambling Act, strengthened by the Interactive Gambling Amendment 2016, essentially prohibits all offshore providers from offering gambling to Australians, apart from a few licensed sportsbooks.
Unfortunately, the ACMA enforces Australian gambling laws so strictly, leading to some difficulty and confusion for people looking to gamble online. The ACMA continues to block reputable gambling sites, which can lead to players choosing to play on more modest, worse websites.
ACMA takes action against gambling site Skins
On 17 May 2023, the ACMA announced that it had issued a formal warning to a company known as Feral Holdings Limited. Feral Holdings Limited and its website, CS:GO Roll, have withdrawn from the Australian market following an ACMA investigation which found the brand was providing prohibited online gambling.
ACMA found that CS:GO Roll provides casino-style online gaming. The site allowed users to deposit skins from the video game Counter Strike: Global Offensive. The skins were then exchanged for in-game coins that could be used to play casino-style games such as dice roll games, crash games, and plinko. The winnings (if any) can then be traded back for skins.
The ACMA found that these games function much like a real money casino. Game skins can cost a significant amount of real money to purchase and can be converted to real money by using third-party platforms.
If you’re not familiar with a game skin, it’s usually a virtual item in a video game that allows your character to change their appearance or gain new items. The way it works is that you can buy, trade or sell these skins for in-game currency.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’ Loughlin made it clear that the use of gaming skins or other virtual currency does not allow sites to offer gambling to Australians and circumvent existing laws. Ms O’Loughlin had the following comments on the recent investigation:
Providing casino style games online is prohibited in Australia when played for money or something of value, be it Australian dollars, cryptocurrency or in this case online game skins
Skinned gambling services are particularly worrisome as they tap into the youth market and have the potential to turn gamers into gamblers
ACMA blocked three sites
In a separate news release, the ACMA also blocked three more gambling websites. The three sites that were added to the blacklist are Vave, Highway Casino and Online Casinos Australia.
It appears that one of the blocked sites, Online Casinos Australia, is actually an affiliate gambling site. The other two sites, Vave and Highway casinoare online casino websites offering gambling services to Australians.
ACMA was pretty torn
Unfortunately for operators, this kind of thing is nothing new. ACMA has been blocking sites since November 2019. There are now 747 allegedly illegal gaming sites on the blacklist. Back in April this year, the ACMA fined Entain for accepting illegal in-game sports bets. Also in April, the ACMA blocked four more gambling sites, including Firefox Casino.
In March, the ACMA blocked an affiliate site called No Deposit Kings, along with a number of other gambling sites. Back in December 2022, the agency blocked Pokizino and ABA Lucky 33. There are seemingly endless examples of the ACMA flexing its regulatory muscles when it comes to online gambling in Australia.
Poker and online gambling are still available to Australians
The ACMA has certainly complicated the online gambling and poker scene for Australians. Fortunately there are still plenty of safe places to bet online. If you are looking for a reliable online poker site that caters to Australians, please feel free to check out this page dedicated to online poker in Australia.
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