Australian media watchdog ACMA is investigating whether the online gambling websites using the .cc domain are violating the country's gambling laws.
Aussie media watchdog Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) sets its eyes on offshore online betting websites using the .cc domain in the country.
As reported by Australian news outlet The ABC, the ACMA is looking at gambling sites using addresses from the Territory of Cocos (Keeling) Islands, an Australian external territory in the Southeast Asian region. The ACMA shared that it is trying to ascertain whether these .cc betting sites are operating legally or are violating the Interactive Gambling Act (IGA).
The IGA prohibits unlicensed operators from operating in Australia without a license from any of the country’s states and territories. In addition, the Act prohibits even licensed gambling websites from offering online casino games and live sports betting to Aussie bettors. Amendments to the IGA, which took effect in September 2018, added provisions to tackle illegal online betting sites based offshore.
Most of the .cc websites presented by The ABC operate like a hybrid of an online casino and sportsbook. In addition, the news outlet pointed out that none of the websites can be traced back to Cocos (Keeling) Islands. Instead, they can be found somewhere from the eastern part of Europe to the Caribbean Islands.
A spokesperson for the ACMA said:
“The ACMA has published a register of interactive wagering service providers that are licensed by an Australian state or territory. Interactive wagering services that are not included on this register are likely to be provided to Australian customers illegal.
Andrew Wilkie, Australian MP and gambling reform advocate, added:
“We are seeing a litany of sites pop up using Cocos (Keeling) Islands domains, which appear to be breaching Australian law. The Federal Government must take immediate action to shut down these sites and stop them offering illegal services to Australian customers.”
The ACMA shared that it could further investigate the .cc betting sites if they can be proven to be providing prohibited or unlicensed service to Australians, among all other factors.
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Illegal Betting Site Down
Earlier this year, the ACMA investigated Bitcoin gambling website JustBet for violating the IGA. JustBet’s website was registered using the .cx domain from Christmas Island—another Australian external territory south of Indonesia—despite its operations being traced back to the South American country of Costa Rica. In addition, the site offered illegally in-play betting, pre-match betting, and online casino titles to Aussie bettors.
After further inquiries and communications between two parties, JustBet changed its domain to .co—a Colombian domain—and has stopped operating in the Australian cyberspace. According to gambling law expert Dr. Charles Livingstone, this could be the first time an ACMA investigation resulted in the illegal gambling website ceasing operations in the country.
Dr. Livingstone, from Monash University, said:
“The avowed purpose of the IGA (interactive gambling act) is to protect Australians from less well-regulated gambling, and to prohibit non-wagering gambling being available online. Using a web address of an Australian territory to offer online gambling services is an offence, unless the provider is registered in an Australian jurisdiction.”
With the successful shutting down of the Bitcoin betting site’s Australian operations, gambling reform advocates can rest assured that the ACMA’s actions towards .cc gambling websites and other unauthorized betting sites are not just for show.