Offshore Gambling Websites to be Blocked

Written by:
Associated Press
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The nation's communications watchdog will soon block access to illegal gambling websites hosted offshore.

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Australians spend up to $400 million on the dodgy sites each year and often have difficulties recouping their winnings or deposits.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority will investigate suspect sites and if unable to take enforcement action, order internet providers to block them.

ACMA chair Nerida O'Loughlin said the new laws were a valuable additional weapon against illegal online gambling.

"There is little to no recourse for consumers engaging with these unscrupulous operators," Ms O'Loughlin said on Monday.

She said 65 illegal companies had left Australia since ACMA started enforcing new rules against offshore sites in 2017.

Communications Minister Paul Fletcher says the sites accounted for about $100 million in lost tax revenue each year.

"Too often these offshore operators are defrauding Australians and their websites typically provide very few, if any, harm minimisation controls," Mr Fletcher said.

The ACMA's new powers fulfil one of three legislative recommendations that came out of a 2015 review of interactive gambling.

Ms O'Loughlin said the offshore sites targeted Australians by using iconic themes and imagery.

The review, overseen by former NSW premier Barry O'Farrell, made 19 recommendations to the government.

It raised a number of problems with the sites, including a lack of Australian consumer protections, as well as links with organised crime.

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