The Australian Communications and Media Authority has requested that internet service providers block what is dubbed as a “major illegal gambling website”.
The Pokies is said to represent “one of the most significant websites” to be blocked by the ACMA since the statutory authority started using its regulatory tool in November 2019.
Nerida O’Loughlin, ACMA Chair, noted that while to date the regulator had requested ISPs to block more than 500 illegal gambling websites, The Pokies is “one of the most substantial” in terms of potential harm to the community.
The group says that payments to the site are estimated to run into tens of millions of dollar, with the ACMA also citing Similarweb data which is said to show that there are around 30,000 Australian visitors to the site each month via mobile and desktop.
An investigation found that the site was operating online casino style games, which are prohibited in Australia under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.
“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.”
Along with The Pokies, 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.
O’Loughlin noted that consumers using illegal gambling websites do not have 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 is nothing you can do about it,” she said.