The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has requested Australian internet service providers (ISPs) to block the illegal gambling website thepokies.net.
This is one of the most significant websites to be blocked since the ACMA started using this regulatory tool in November 2019. Payments to the site are estimated to run into tens of millions of dollars. Data from Similarweb shows there are around 30,000 Australian visitors to the site each month (based on mobile and desktop data).
An ACMA investigation found the site was operating online casino-style games, which are prohibited in Australia under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said that while to date the regulator had requested ISPs to block more than 500 illegal gambling websites, thepokies.net is one of the most substantial in terms of potential harm to the community.
“We have received more complaints about thepokies.net this year than any other illegal gambling website, and it is clearly doing a lot of harm to the Australian community,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
“Complaints have ranged from people who have lost significant amounts of money through to the site refusing to honour deposits and winnings.
“By blocking access to sites like this we are sending a strong message that the ACMA can and will take action to stop illegal operators from targeting Australians.”
Website blocking is just one element of the ACMA’s strategy to disrupt illegal gambling, which includes industry engagement, targeted enforcement and public education. Over 160 illegal services have pulled out of the Australian market since the ACMA started enforcing new illegal offshore gambling rules in 2017.
Ms O’Loughlin said consumers using illegal gambling websites do not have the important customer protections that come with licenced services.
“If one of these sites decides to keep your money, and we know that happens quite regularly, there is nothing you can do about it,” she said.
Along with thepokies.net, the ACMA has also requested ISPs to block illegal gambling sites Azure Hand, Abo Casino, Betroom, 777Bay, Space Lilly, Jet Casino, Katsu Bet and Winz.