The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has issued a request to local internet service providers to block an online casino website it says has illegally taken in tens of millions of dollars in payments from Australians.
The site thepokies.net is described as “one of the most significant websites to be blocked since the ACMA began blocking sites in 2017″ with data showing around 30,000 Australian visitors to the site each month.
ACMA said the site has been operating online casino style games, which are prohibited under Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act 2001.
ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said that while the regulator had to date 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,” 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.”
According to data from the regulator, over 160 illegal services have pulled out of the Australian market since the ACMA started enforcing new illegal offshore gambling rules in 2017.
“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,” O’Loughlin said.