A letter from the Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA) sits unopened in an office in downtown Willemstad, the capital city of Curacao, a Caribbean island that has become a centre for much of the world’s unregulated gambling.
The letter is a formal warning to a company which facilitates online casino and sportsbetting, informing them that they are in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, for providing ‘prohibited interactive gambling services to customers physically present in Australia’.
Which company is not important. ACMA has sent such letters to more than 20 companies who register their business in Curacao, operating online slots, blackjack, roulette, sports books or whatever your fancy through associated brands and increasingly utilising the mystique of cryptocurrency to offer largely unregulated services to the world.
It is illegal under Australian law for them to offer these services in Australia, but not for Australians to use them. Enforcement is focussed on the provider, but with many of these companies operating in jurisdictions, and with limited co-operation with Australian authorities, the ‘wet lettuce’ of a warning letter is one of the few options available for ACMA, which is charged with enforcing the law.