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Australian Authority Investigating Illegal Offshore Gambling Sites
- July 18, 2018 By Oliver Young -
Golden days for offshore gaming sites targeting Australian players may be over. Namely, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has reported that the legality of several offshore gaming sites based on the Cocos Islands.
Those unfamiliar with the Islands should know that they are considered Aussie territory and are located in the Indian Ocean, about 3,000 kilometers from Perth. In addition to the Cocos, the Christmas Islands were mentioned by the authority as well. As it was revealed, these websites use Australian web addresses, something that is strictly forbidden with the Interactive Gambling Act.
So far, it was widely known that Australia bans online gambling sites and forbids Aussie operators to offer such services to Aussie players. Nevertheless, their laws don’t restrict players from playing at offshore gambling sites that accept users from Australia.
ACMA with Limited Authority as Islands Have Own Internet Country Code
Even though the Cocos and the Christmas Islands officially are under the control of Australia, they both have their own internet country codes. This makes the situation complicated for the ACMA as the body has limited authority over those jurisdictions; the ACMA itself has acknowledged the issue and highlighted the importance of collaboration in these investigations.
To make the scenario even more complicated, it was reported that these gaming operators that offer a plethora of online casino games and sports betting options are actually based in the Caribbean or Europe; they only use the unique country codes of the Aussie islands.
According to the ACMA, this not only is unacceptable, but also illegal. Moreover, as the authority likes to point out, its main concern is to protect Australian players from gambling sites that break the Australian law, but also offer little or no protection to consumers.
Spokesperson for the ACMA commented on the investigations by listing several factors that are considered when deciding whether a website should be investigated or not. For example, he mentioned “prohibited or unlicensed” services as well as “an Australian-customer link.”
Politicians Call for Immediate Removal of Such Gaming Sites
As online gambling has always been a hot topic in Australia, it came as little surprise that anti-gambling politicians were among the first to express their opinion on such offshore websites. Andrew Wilkie, an independent MP, for example, called for immediate removal of such gaming sites.
In his statement, Wilkie highlighted that there were numerous sites using Cocos Islands domains, which is breaching of the Aussie law. Furthermore, he demanded from the Federal Government to take “immediate action” and shut down such sites in order to prevent them from offering illegal gambling to Australian consumers.
If this happens, it won’t be the first time as earlier this year an online cryptocurrency gaming website using a Christmas Island domain was forced to relocate by the ACMA. Namely, the casino was based in South America and after the investigation changed its Christmas Island domain with a Columbian one.
According to gambling law experts, the IGA was created to both protect and prevent Australians to gamble online at illegal websites. Therefore, offering such services to them was a criminal offence unless the operator was registered in an Aussie jurisdiction.
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