ACMA Orders ISPs to Block Emu Casino and Fair Go Casino

  • Two casinos blocked after more than 50 complaints were made to the ACMA
  • Customers either received payouts late or not at all
  • Offshore casinos cost Australian's around AU$400m (US$271.78m) per year
blocked web page icon on a computer screen
Two gambling websites targeting Australians have been shut down over complaints that winnings weren’t paid out. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Complaints over conduct

New regulatory powers in Australia have resulted in two offshore casinos being blocked after the ACMA received numerous complaints from players.

As part of its new powers, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ordered local internet service providers (ISPs) to blacklist both Fair Go Casino and Emu Casino, both of which hold Curacao licenses.

In a move to clean up illegal gambling services in Australia, the ACMA is using new powers that were previously announced this month in the hope of tackling addiction rates in the country.

Not paying out on time

The decision to take down both Fair Go and Emu Casino appears to have come from the Australian public themselves. ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin revealed that the organization had received more than 50 complaints, including the casinos not paying out on time or even at all.

revealed that the organization had received more than 50 complaints

In a statement, O’Loughlin said: “They’re happy to take your money when you lose, but people have reported to us that they refuse to pay out winnings. If you have funds deposited with these or any other illegal offshore gambling sites you should withdraw those funds now.”

The Australian government has previously estimated that residents lose around AU$400m (US$271.78) each year due to illegal offshore websites. These sites are often non-compliant with internal gambling regulation, which means it can be difficult to chase any money owed.

New regulatory powers

This difficulty in blocking such sites has led to new regulatory powers that can order ISPs to block those that fall foul of domestic legislation and also avoid paying taxes. Around AU$100m (US$68.31m) is lost in uncollected taxes each year.

However, since the Interactive Amendment Gambling Act was introduced in September 2017, the regulator has been given greater powers. Over 30 offshore gambling websites were banned in its first 12 months alone.

Traditionally, the ACMA has only been able to issue formal warnings or seek civil penalty orders. However, without a local presence, there was little in the way of further punishment for providers.

While Section 313(3) of the Telecommunications Act 1997 had been in place to historically tackle access to online fraud, malware, and child abuse material, it has now been redeveloped for further use. This has enabled the action against Fair Go and Emu casino to go ahead.

Dangers to consumers

When the new measures were announced earlier in the month, communications minister Paul Fletcher warned of the dangers that consumers faced when entrusting offshore gambling companies with their money. He said that illegal overseas gambling companies are

preying on Australians by targeting them with misleading incentives. Consumers have no recourse to retrieve their money.”

The telecommunications industry group, Communications Alliance, is said to support the bold move.