As a part of standard business practices for the ACMA (Australian Communications and Media Authority), the agency has been on a bit of a rampage when it comes to blocking sites, issuing warnings, and enforcing Australian gambling laws.
On May 17, 2023, the ACMA announced that it has blocked 3 more supposedly illegal gambling websites. In addition, the agency also announced that it issued a formal warning to a company called CS:GO Roll for offering casino-style games involving video game skins.
The Interactive Gambling Act 2001
Over the course of the past few years, the ACMA has really ramped its enforcement actions up a notch. The ACMA is primarily responsible for enforcing the Interactive Gambling Act 2001. The Interactive Gambling Act, as strengthened by the Interactive Gambling Amendment 2016essentially bans any offshore providers from offering gambling to Australians, besides a handful of licenced sportsbooks.
Unfortunately, the ACMA enforcing Australian gambling laws so stringently results in a bit of difficulty and confusion for folks who wish to gamble online. The ACMA continues to block reputable gambling sites which may result in players choosing to play at sketchier, inferior websites.
The ACMA Takes Action Against Skins Gambling Site
On May 17, 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 Feral Holdings Limited and its website, CS:GO Roll, have withdrawn from the Australian market following this ACMA investigation, which found that the brand was providing prohibited online gambling.
The ACMA found that CS:GO Roll was providing casino-style online games. The site was allowing users to deposit skins from the video game Counter Strike: Global Offensive. The skins were then exchanged for coins in-game that could be utilised to play casino-style games, like dice roll games, crash gambling games, and plinko. The winnings (if any) could then be traded back for skins.
The ACMA found that these games function much like a real-money casino. The gaming skins can cost a significant amount of real money to purchase and can be converted into real money by utilising third-party platforms.
If you aren’t familiar with a gaming skin, it is usually a virtual item in a video game that allows your character to change looks or acquire new items. The way that it works is that you can purchase, trade, or sell these skins for an in-game currency.
The ACMA Chair Nerida O’ Loughlin made it clear that using gaming skins or any other virtual currency does not allow sites to offer gambling to Australians and circumvent the current laws. Ms. O’ Loughlin had the following comments on the recent investigation:
Providing casino-style games online is prohibited in Australia when playing for money or something of value, whether that’s Australian dollars, cryptocurrency or in this case, online gaming skins
Skins gambling services are particularly concerning as they tap into a youth market and have the potential to convert gamers into gamblers
The ACMA Blocks Three Sites
In a separate news release, the ACMA has also blocked an additional three gambling websites. The three sites that have been added to the blacklist are Vave, Highway Casino, and Online Casinos Australia.
It looks like one of the sites blocked, Online Casinos Australia, is actually a gambling affiliate site. The other two sites, Vave and Highway Casinoare online casino websites offering gambling services to Australians.
The ACMA Has Been on Quite the Tear
Unfortunately for operators, this kind of thing is not new. The ACMA has been blocking sites since November 2019. There are now 747 supposedly illegal gaming sites on the blacklist. Back in April of this year, the ACMA fined Entain for accepting illegal in-play 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 gambling online in Australia.
Poker and Online Gambling 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 gamble online. If you are looking for a trustworthy online poker site that caters to Aussies, then please feel free to check out this page dedicated to online poker in Australia.
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