Russian Telecom Operator Blocks Thousands of Online Gaming Sites

According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Australians spend $400 million a year on illegal gaming sites. Many of these sites are ‘dodgy dingoes’ which don’t pay out winnings. And the Australian government has had enough.

Soon, the Aussie government will have the power to force internet service providers (ISPs) to block illegal online casinos, mostly ones which operate without a valid license – or simply scam punters out of their money.

Enthusiastic Gamblers

Australians are  who really enjoy a good gaming session, whether online or down at the local land-based casino. Australia is the largest gambling country in the world per capita, and this demand has drawn the attention of the online casino industry. Unfortunately, some scam casinos have also wormed their way into the mix.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is the national regulator spearheading the efforts to block these ‘dodgy dingo’ casinos from taking advantage of vulnerable gamblers.

The ACMA’s efforts thus far have resulted in more than 65 illegal online gambling companies leaving the Australian market since 2017. But the danger is far from over. The effect of these rogue casinos was never felt more strongly than in a recent case of a young man who committed suicide after an online gambling website refused to pay out his winnings. And this may have been the straw that broke the camel’s back.

Aussie Anti-Gambling Arsenal

In 2001, Australia first caught wind of the burgeoning illegal gambling problem affecting its citizens. The ACMA authored the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001 to stop offending sites from robbing Australians. However, the problem did not disappear overnight, so the ACMA stepped up the legal action.

At first they decided to hit the illegal online casino market where it hurts: in the wallet. The AMCA can now impose fines up to $1 million per day for individuals and $4.6 million for companies in violation of the law.

In spite of these efforts, Aussies still dump hundreds of millions into rogue casinos. In addition to the fines, the AMCA also sponsors educational programs warning of the dangers of gambling online, and how to spot a rogue casino. But the final weapons upgrade in the war on rogue casinos comes in the form of the power to block these online casinos at the ISP level. The government can now force ISPs to block recognized rogue casinos from offering their services to Australian customers.

“The ability to have ISPs block illegal websites will be a valuable additional weapon in the ACMA’s arsenal in the fight against illegal online gambling,” ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin said. “We have been targeting illegal gambling services we know are active in the Australian market through complaints received and monitoring.”

Besides the pain and financial suffering affecting Australians, proper gaming regulation is good for the economy. Rather than dumping $400 million into offshore rogue casinos, the government prefers the money to be spent at home in legal casinos. The resulting tax and licensing revenue – plus jobs – makes legal casinos the smart choice.

Online Dingo Fence

Dingoes are a wild dog prevalent in the Australian outback. After losing large numbers of sheep to the wild dingoes, Australians built a Dingo Fence in the 1880s, which survives today. It is one of the longest structures in the world, and constant maintenance is required to patch the holes chewed through the fence by dingoes.

The latest efforts by the Australian government blocking illegal online casinos at the ISP level is like a cyber-fence against dodgy dingoes. But can it hold? The obvious problem with ISP blocking is VPN technology. If Australian gamblers want to gamble online strongly enough, they can simply hide their ISP address behind a VPN (virtual private network) using special software. The VPN disguises the user’s actual location. Holes in the cyber-fence would be the result.

The Australian government does not believe that too many people would use VPNs to bypass the ISP blocking measures against rogue websites.
But if they did, it wouldn’t be the dingoes chewing holes in the fence; it would be the sheep.

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Richard Holmes was born in Tampa, Florida and studied computer science at Pensacola Christian College in Pensacola Florida. A devout Baptist, volunteer Sunday School teacher and online gaming fan, Richard works as a part-time systems administrator at Baptist Hospital and part-time professional blogger specializing in statistics, probability and computer science issues. He is an ardent believer in the future of artificial intelligence as a tool for transforming human society for the better, particularly in the area of health care and modern medicine. A chess player, and competitive online gamer Richard actively participates on online gaming tournaments in his free time.