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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has identified 18 unregulated gambling websites as part of an investigation into illegal online gambling during the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup.

The tournament, hosted in Australia and New Zealand for the first time, ran from 20 July to 20 August 2023.

According to the regulator, the 18 services found in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 followed a review of 200 offshore brands, with 21 put under investigation for appearing to be directly targeting Australians.

In response to the ACMA’s findings, three of the identified operators chose to voluntarily withdraw from the Australian market.

Meanwhile, the ACMA requested internet service providers to block access to the 15 remaining websites.

Taking advantage of high-profile events

ACMA authority member and online gambling lead Carolyn Lidgerwood said the sites were unlicensed to provide wagering services in Australia and in some cases also offered interactive gambling services such as online casinos and slots or online in-play betting, which are all banned in Australia.

“Illegal gambling operations often take advantage of high-profile sporting events to push their services onto fans.

“These sites also offer none of the consumer protections that apply to licensed wagering services in Australia. Using these sites is more than a gamble as you have no rights and even if you win, you may never see the money,” said Lidgerwood.

Since 2019, the ACMA has been asking internet service providers to block gambling websites found to be operating in breach of Australian interactive gambling laws.

During that time, the authority blocked over 900 illegal gambling and affiliate websites.

Just last month, the ACMA blocked nine sites, including Lucky7even, 50 Crowns, Rockwin, Bitdreams, Mr Pacho, Casino Infinity, Zota Bet and Spicyjackpots.

The regulator said that more than 220 illegal services have also pulled out of the Australian market since the ACMA started enforcing illegal offshore gambling rules.

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