An Australia-registered sports betting website that accepts bitcoin for bets is under investigation by the country’s communications and media authority.
In a report from ABC News, the investigation comes at the urging of Tasmanian independent MP Andrew Wilkie, a strong advocate of gambling reform.
According to the report, the JustBet website is registered with the Christmas Island Domain Administration (CIDA), which gives it a website ending in ‘.cx.’ As this is considered an Australian Island Territory, in theory, this makes it legal. However, the website has been registered by a Panamanian while its IP address is linked to San Jose, the capital of Costa Rica, which is also a thriving hub for the digital currency gambling industry.
The sports gambling site allows bets to be placed in a digital currency such as bitcoin and the U.S. dollar in Australian sports including the Australian Football League (AFL), the AFLX tournament, and A-League, a professional men’s football league. Live and pre-match betting is also available on international games as well as online casino games.
However, after Wilkie brought the website to the attention of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), it appears that it’s not registered with any gambling commission in Australia. As a result, experts have said that this is breaching the federal Interactive Gambling Act. This act prohibits websites from offering these types of online gambling to Australians.
Wilkie said of the situation that:
The site should be shut down immediately, and the Christmas Island Domain Administration should act straight away to remedy the situation.
As a result, ACMA has said that it is investigating the site to determine if it has breached the Interactive Gambling Act.
In response, the CIDA said that it would need to receive a complaint from authorities or a member of the public before it could de-register the site.
A spokesperson for the ACMA said of the matter that:
The ACMA has published a register of interactive wagering service providers that are licensed by an Australian state or territory. Interactive wagering services that are not included on this register are likely to be provided to Australian customers illegally.
This news comes a month after the Northern Territory Racing Commission (NTRC) in Australia ordered all bookmakers licensed by the state to cease and desist from offering bitcoin betting in the country.
Featured image from Flickr via ahmet cetin.