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ACMA to investigate offshore gambling sites using Australian web domains

ACMA Australia

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is now investigating the allegation that gambling websites using the .cc domain extension have breached of the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA). As per the IGA, website operators are prohibited from offering casino-style games and live sports betting to Australian customers. These multiple offshore betting sites use web addresses from the Cocos Islands, an Australian territory located 3,000 kilometers from Perth in the Indian Ocean.

This was reported by Australia’s ABC news that such sites offer an array of casino gaming and sports betting options  and are actually located in Europe and the Caribbean but use the Cocos Islands’ unique internet country code.

Gambling operators without an Australian licence are also prohibited from taking bets from Australian customers.

ACMA is now concerned whether the unlicensed sites are offering their services to Australians, an offence under the government’s recently tightened Interactive Gambling Act (IGA).

“When deciding if a site should be investigated, the ACMA considers a number of factors, including whether the service being provided may be a prohibited or unlicensed service … and whether it may have an Australian-customer link,” an ACMA spokesman told the ABC.

According to Dr Charles Livingstone Monash University gambling law expert  there was no doubt the sites were breaking Australian law.

“The avowed purpose of the IGA is to protect Australians from less well-regulated gambling sites and to prohibit non-wagering gambling being available online,” he said. “Using a web address of an Australian territory to offer online gambling services is an offence, unless the provider is registered in an Australian jurisdiction.”

An online cryptocurrency casino based in Central America but using a Christmas Island domain was investigated and ordered to relocate by the ACMA earlier this year.

 ACMA also wants to curb online gaming Adverts

The ACMA wants to introduce safe zones where online streaming sites aren’t allowed to show gambling adverts.

Online gambling adverts could become less frequent in the coming months following the publication of new guidelines by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

Following a new set of rules brought in by the federal government back in March, the ACMA has published a fresh set of proposals. Based on feedback it received on a report released in April, the watchdog wants to implement “safe zones” to protect children.

Included in the draft proposal is a ban on adverts shown via “new media” between 5:00am and 8:30pm. The rules would mirror the restriction that Prime minister Malcolm Turnbull had put on TV stations on March 30th 2018.

Under the government’s guidelines, TV broadcasters can only show gambling-related adverts after 8:30pm and not more than five minutes before the start of a live sporting event. When the law changed, “low audience” channels such as Eurosport were exempt, as were online websites and streaming platforms.

As live streams are becoming increasingly popular, the ACMA wants to reform this sector as well.

One discrepancy that hasn’t been addressed in the recent ACMA document is the current exemption for horse, dog and harness racing. Under the government’s TV advertising reforms, these sports weren’t included in the time-restricted content schedule and would harm the mind of minors.

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