The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has called on Australian Internet Service Providers (ISPs) to block illegal gambling website thepokies.net.
It is one of the largest websites to be blocked since the ACMA began using this regulatory tool in November 2019. Payouts on the site are estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars. Similarweb data shows that there are approximately 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-type games, which are banned in Australia under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.
ACMA chairwoman Nerida O’Loughlin says the regulator has so far asked ISPs to block more than 500 illegal gambling websites, thepokies.net is one of the biggest in terms of potential harm to the community.
“We’ve had more complaints about thepokies.net this year than any other illegal gambling site, and it’s clearly hurting the Australian community a lot,” Ms O’Loughlin said.
“Complaints range from people losing large sums to the site’s refusal to honor deposits and winnings.
“By blocking access to sites like this, we send a strong message that the ACMA can and will take action to prevent illegal operators from targeting Australians.”
Website blocking is just one part of the ACMA’s strategy to disrupt illegal gambling, which includes industry engagement, targeted enforcement and public education. More than 160 illegal services have withdrawn from the Australian market since the ACMA began enforcing new rules on illegal offshore gambling in 2017.
Ms O’Loughlin said consumers using illegal gambling websites do not benefit from the important customer protections that come with licensed services.
“If one of these sites decides to keep your money, and we know that happens quite regularly, there’s nothing you can do about it,” she said.
Besides thepokies.net, the ACMA has also asked ISPs to block illegal gambling sites Azure Hand, Abo Casino, Betroom, 777Bay, Space Lilly, Jet Casino, Katsu Bet and Winz.