Australia’s communications watchdog is getting ready to blcok access to illegal gambling websites that are hosted offshore. It’s estimated that Australians spend around $400m dollars on these kinds of sites each year, but often face difficulty when it comes to withdrawing their winnings.

Illegal sites lack the consumer protections offered by legitimate gambling websites. They also fail to implement harm-minimisation controls that are designed to protect vulnerable consumers.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will investigate suspicious sites. If they are unable to take enforcement action, internet service providers will be instructed to block them.

ACMA says that 65 illegal betting companies have left the country since stricter new regulations were instroduced in 2017.

The chair of ACMA, Nerida O’Loughlin, said the new laws were a valuable weapon against illegal online gambling. “There is little to no recourse for consumers engaging with these unscrupulous operators,” she said in a statement.

Communications minister Paul Fletcher said unscrupulous sites accounted for about $100m a year in lost taxe revenue

“Too often these offshore operators are defrauding Australians and their websites typically provide very few, if any, harm-minimisation controls.”