NSW issues consumer warning over illegal gambling websites
The New South Wales (NSW) Office of Responsible Gambling (ORG) has urged consumers in the Australian state not to use unlicensed overseas gambling sites, warning that players are at high risk of not seeing their money again.
ORG director Natalie Wright said with many sports suspended or cancelled, and pubs, clubs and casinos temporarily closed as a result of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak, there is a risk people will turn to unregulated sites.
However, as these websites are not licensed, they do not operate in line with NSW regulations, which both Wright and the ORG said leaves players at risk of losing money and not being protected against gambling-related harm.
“Overseas gambling websites are illegal in Australia, and people who use them face additional risks than when they gamble with a licensed Australian operator,” Wright said.
“Some of these sites look legitimate, and they even look like they are Australian by using images such as the Australian flag and native animals. These sites are illegal under the Commonwealth Interactive Gambling Act 2001, and because they’re not regulated, there are no safeguards to protect people.”
The Act permits the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to request internet service providers to block overseas gambling sites operating illegally in Australia to help protect players.
Such websites can offer gambling including casino-style games, slot machines, scratchcards, betting on the outcome of lotteries or keno, in-play sports betting and other wagering services not licensed by an Australian state or territory.
“For people that do want to gamble online, you should only use services licensed in Australia, as there are consumer safeguards in place and responsible gambling options, such as the ability to set time and expenditure limits,” Wright said.
In February, the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority convicted Ladbrokes Australia and Neds of illegal gambling marketing activities in the state, issuing the two operators with a record fine of AUD$207,500 (£108,853/€124,854/US$135,770), the highest ever levied in NSW.
According to Liquor & Gaming NSW, the GVC-owned brands breached regulations by running inducements to gamble to NSW residents.