Australia cracking down on .cc online gambling domains


australia-cocos-islands-online-gambling-domainsAustralia’s media watchdog is putting the heat on unauthorized online gambling sites trying to pass themselves off as being based in the country.

On Tuesday, Aussie media outlet ABC reported that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) was trying to determine whether multiple gambling sites using .cc web domains were in fact authorized to offer sports betting services to Australian gamblers.

The .cc domain refers to the Cocos [Keeling] Islands, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean with only around 600 residents, which has tried to carve out a niche in the internet economy by promoting its web-identity as “the next .com.”

Independent MP and noted gambling scold Andrew Wilkie (pictured) has demanded the federal government “take immediate action to shut down these sites and stop them offering illegal services to Australian customers.”

Under the amended Interactive Gambling Act 2001, online gambling operators are forbidden from accessing the Aussie market without a local license, and even locally licensed operators are forbidden from offering in-play sports betting and online casino or poker products, all of which was available via the .cc sites.

None of the sites using the .cc domain – including Planetofbet and Inbet – appear to have a physical presence in Australia, another regulatory no-no. Some of the sites offer wagering using cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, which is also forbidden by Australian gaming regulators.

In February, the ACMA announced that it had probed a number of suspected breaches of the IGA’s rules. In March, the ACMA investigated Bitcoin betting operator Justbet for using a .cx domain, which refers to Christmas Island, another Australian external territory in the Indian Ocean. Following that probe, JustBet switched to a Colombian .co domain.

In other ACMA news, last week saw the watchdog publish new proposed restrictions for betting adverts streamed online, following the stakeholder consultation launched in April. Operators will have until July 26 to comment on the revised rules, which can be viewed here.

As previewed, the revised rules will prohibit gambling advertising appearing on live-streamed sports events between 5am and 8:30pm. Similar rules were applied to traditional media broadcasting platforms as of March 30.