The Australian Communications and Media Authority, also known as the ACMAhas spent the better portion of the past few years enforcing Australian gambling law and regulations. On April 19th, 2023, the ACMA issued a formal warning to a streaming service known as Kayo for breaking rules relating to gambling advertisements.
On the same date, April 19th, the ACMA also blocked access to another four supposedly illegal online gambling websites. The ACMA has been steadily increasing this kind of enforcement in an effort to stop offshore operators from offering internet gambling services to Australians.
The ACMA Regulates Australian Gaming
The ACMA is primarily responsible for enforcing the Interactive Gambling Act which relates to all of the regulations and rules in place that potential Australian gambling operators need to follow. The primary tactic that the ACMA has employed is requesting the countries’ internet service providers block access to specific URLs. As we will discuss a bit later in this article, the success of these efforts appears to be questionable at best.
In reality, the unfortunate truth is that the ACMA has taken a hard-line stance against any offshore online gambling operators. Besides a few sportsbooks currently in operation, it is impossible for an offshore operator to gain licensure which would allow it to offer online gambling to Australian consumers.
In addition to blocking sites deemed to be illegal, the ACMA is also responsible for enforcing advertising rules relating to gambling. One example of this came when the agency fined BetDeluxe $50,172 for breaking advertising rules and regulations.
ACMA Issues a Formal Warning to Sports Streaming Service
In Australia, gambling advertisements are not allowed to be streamed during sporting events that take place between 5 am and 8:30 pm according to section 12 of the ACMA’s 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 been issued a formal warning after the brand ran prohibited gambling advertisements within the 5 minutes prior to an Australian Football League event and during scheduled commercial breaks.
The event in question took place on May 22, 2022, when Fremantle played against Collingwood. A company called Streamotion, which is the provider of the Kayo Sports service, has been issued the official ACMA warning.
In the document, the ACMA claims that it obtained evidence that the Kayo Sports service provider streamed 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 preceding the match.
Nerida O’Loughlin is the Chair of the ACMA. She had a few things to say regarding the recent warning and investigation:
Streaming services need to comply with the rules in the same way traditional television broadcasters do, gambling advertising during live sport is a major concern for Australians.
Families want to watch live sport without needing to worry that children may come to think of gambling as a part of the game.
The ACMA Blocks Four More Sites
In addition to issuing warnings, the ACMA is also busy blocking gambling sites as it has done numerous times over the past few years. This time around, the ACMA has requested Australian internet service providers block four additional supposedly illegal online gambling websites. The four blocked sites are Firefox CasinoRich Prize, Heaps O Wins, and Shazam Casino.
As is the case with the vast majority of these cases, all four of the sites added to the blacklist offer casino gaming like slots to Australians. By examining one of the sites a bit closer, Firefox Casinowe should be able to get an idea of what the blocked sites have to offer.
As we can see, the Firefox Casino site offers games like slots designed by the longtime manufacturer, Real Time Gaming. Despite the popularity and legitimacy of many of these sites, the ACMA asserts that the sites are illegal and continue to place URLs on the blacklist.
Since the ACMA first blocked access to sites in November of 2019, 723 sites have now been added to the infamous blacklist. Additionally, over 200 gambling operators have chosen to leave the Australian market. With that being said, one important question remains. Why is the ACMA doing this?
What’s the Point?
Despite the ACMA claiming that these efforts are to protect Australian consumers and enforce gambling laws, we can’t help but wonder if these kinds of measures are having the intended impact. Let’s take a closer look at the ACMA’s recent enforcement actions.
The ACMA has consistently placed operators on its blacklist like when it added Pokizino and a few other sites to the dreaded list back in December of 2022. The ACMA has also blocked affiliate marketing sites like when it blocked No Deposit Kings and a few other sites in March of this year.
As we mentioned, there are now 723 gambling sites on the blacklist. The issue here is that of the 723 sites on this blacklist, many continue operating normally and offer gambling to Australian consumers. Most commonly, this is 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 that has offered gambling to Aussies for many years. Joe Fortune has over ten URLs currently on the ACMA blacklist of blocked sites. Despite this fact, business operations at Joe Fortune continue as usual with the site creating new URLs to circumvent these actions with the ACMA having seemingly given up on chasing the largest operators.
Another concern is that there is a potential for the ACMA to divert 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 questionable as to what positive impact the ACMA’s efforts could be having. Instead, blocking these types of sites may lead customers who wish to gamble to unknowingly play at a shadier and potentially inferior site.
You Can Play Poker and Gamble Online Safely in Australia
Although the ACMA has managed to make the Australian online gambling field a bit confusing and disjointed, there are still safe places to play poker and gamble on the internet for Australians. If you are a poker player in Australia looking for a trusted option to play, please feel free to check out our Australian online poker guide.
Perhaps you prefer a spin on a slot or a hand of blackjack? If so, there are also a number of trustworthy and reliable online casinos that still cater to Australians. Please feel free to head over to this extensive Australian online casinos guide to find out more. Our top casino recommendation is Joe Fortune Casino. You are welcome to peruse this detail-oriented Joe Fortune Casino review to learn all about the games and promotions available at this Aussie-friendly site.