Australia

Australian Regulator Orders Blocking of Ignition Casino, Eight Other Sites

Australia’s online poker players have seemingly lost another outlet for playing their game with the news that the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has ordered the blocking of the large grey-market offering Ignition Casino. The ACMA on Monday issued the blocking order to the country’s internet service providers (ISPs), specifying Ignition Casino and eight other online gambling sites that have continued to accept Aussie customers following that country’s official ban in 2017 on all forms of online gambling other than sports betting.

It’s the second time that the ACMA has issued such a blocking order. Last year, the ACMA ordered the blocking of another Aussie-facing operation, Emu Casino, which included multiple brands and domains. Emu Casino has since exited the Aussie online sphere while reaching a workaround deal with Aussie authorities that allows customers to retrieve their frozen Emu balances through separate means. The ACMA has ordered the blocking based on updates made to both gambling and telecommunications laws in Australia.

In addition to Ignition Casino, the ACMA also ordered ISPs to block these sites: Roo Casino, GW Casino, Wager Beat, Joe Fortune, Casino Dingo, AU Slots, Top Bet, and XBet. As is plainly evident, some of these sites specifically targeted Aussie gamblers despite the country’s ban on such services, while others may simply have failed to proactively block Australian players.

“More than 79 complaints have been submitted to the ACMA about these services, which are available in Australia,” the ACMA declared in a statement. “ACMA investigations found these services to be operating in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.”

The regulator also noted that “Website blocking is one of a range of enforcement and disruption options the ACMA uses to protect Australians against illegal gambling services. More than 90 illegal companies have pulled out of the Australian market since 2017 when the ACMA started enforcing new illegal offshore gambling rules.”

Ignition Casino is a spinoff of the Bodog/Bovada brand family. Ignition Casino was created in August of 2016 through the sale of Bovada Poker’s US customer base to Lynton Limited, an unknown entity with little previous track record. Despite its “casino” name, Ignition was created as a poker-first offering, and it remains operating as a skin of sorts on Bodog/Bovada’s software, and it appears to have accepted players from at least a few other countries as well, as evidenced by the current situation in Australia. The site is officially regulated by the Kahnawake Gaming Commission (KGC), based just outside Montreal, Canada.

The loss of a prominent and stable grey-market offering (given that no formal regulatory mechanism is even being considered) is likely to drive Australia’s devoted online players even farther underground in the virtual sense. One likely result should be an even greater shift to the “club”-based form of online poker generally available through agents and via smartphone apps. Such apps and games first surfaced in Pacific Rim countries ranging from China to Australia, and despite their high risks, they’ve become an option of last resort for certain categories of online players. No formal regulatory plans are on the country’s legislative horizon.

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