The Australian government is looking to impose stricter laws that will block access to illegal and unregulated online gambling and casino websites.
According to the Australian Minister of Communications Paul Fletcher, there has been a “regular stream of complaints” from Australian citizens regarding offshore gambling websites that don’t pay out winnings. Offshore casino sites have also been criticized for avoiding taxes necessary to manage the gambling industry in the country.
“They’re not licensed or regulated in Australia. That means they don’t have consumer safeguards in place, it also means they’re not paying any tax and they’re not contributing towards, for example, the cost of regulating the racing industry in Australia,” said Fletcher, speaking to local news outlet ABC News. Illegal gambling websites are estimated to receive up to 400 million Australian dollars (AUD) in revenue each year, costing the country approximately $100 million AUD in uncollected tax.
Complaints suggest that some online gambling and casino sites make it extremely difficult to withdraw any winnings or remaining funds once a player chooses to cash out. The tactic is commonly used by less reputable online casino operators that are based outside of the jurisdiction of the countries in which they market their platforms. Players should always use trustworthy casino review sites like newzealandslots to ensure they don’t fall prey to these scams.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) now plans to impose new laws that will allow it to block any websites it deems illegal, pending ongoing investigations. A review conducted back in 2015 by New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell suggested blocking illegal websites but the legislation to enact the new laws was only recently finalized.
As many as 1000 websites have been implicated in the scandal with one in particular scheduled to be blocked in the near future. The ACMA will work together with local Australian internet service providers to block more illegal gambling websites in the future.
An explosive market
The online gambling market has exploded in popularity recently and is expected to grow to an estimated $94 billion USD by 2024. The growth has been attributed to advancements in technology, like faster mobile internet access and cheaper data rates. In addition, new developments in financial technology, like cryptocurrencies and easier access to offshore banking, has made online gambling more accessible in countries where it was previously restricted.
Many fear the accelerated growth could become unsustainable as regulators scramble to control and limit illegal operations. In the U.S. only a small selection of states allow online gambling and sports betting, while in Europe – where online gambling laws have historically been quite lax – regulators are now beginning to crack down on unlicensed operators. Last month the Belgian Parliament announced a wave of new amendments to its 20-year-old Gambling Act, making it illegal to advertise cashback bonuses or use credit cards, amongst other changes. The UK is also considering similar amendments to its gambling legislation.
Major New Zealand operator SkyCity recently announced plans to launch an online platform for Kiwi players. However, since licensing in New Zealand is limited to government-approved operators, the SkyCity online casino will be based in Malta. The development has caused some controversy amongst NZ gambling authorities, who now want to impose stricter regulations in order to curb potential problems like gambling addiction.
Website blacklists, credit card bans and licensing considerations are just a few of the factors that were put forward to kiwi citizens in an open consultation that the New Zealand Gambling Commission issued earlier this year. The outcome of the consultation and citizens’ concerns are currently being evaluated by the commission.