real-money online casino advertising to australian iphone users

The Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA) is the legislation that regulates online gambling in Australia, in all its shapes and forms. A report into the IGA was produced this year by the Federal Senate, which contained numerous recommendations for updating the archaic legislation, but so far nothing has happened.

One area where the IGA is very specific is the area of online casino gambling: it is illegal for any company to provide online casino games (including blackjack, poker, slot/poker machines, roulette and the like) in Australia. This covers not just websites but downloadable software and apps as well. Similarly, it is illegal for any company to advertise such services in Australia.

Which is why I got quite a surprise today.

I woke up early this morning and pottered around the house getting ready for work. Just before 5am, I decided to play a couple of games of Solitaire on my iPhone before heading out the door. I have the free version of Solitaire (by Mobilityware), which is ad-supported. It’s also rated 4+, meaning it’s appropriate for all ages.

I finished my first game (which I won) and hit Deal. Up came an ad; they are always displayed between games. But this ad was a little different from the usual ads for silly games, or even for simulated gambling apps.

This is what I saw.

What struck me as unusual was that the ad mentioned actual money; most simulated gambling apps don’t do that. Also, the currency kept changing from dollars to pounds to euros and back to dollars again. And the name, “All Slots Casino”, rang a bell.

So I clicked… and I was taken not to the AppStore, but to a secondary ad… and it all became clear.

All Slots Casino is indeed a real money casino website. It’s registered in Canada. And it allows gamblers to play casino games, spending real money, without having to download any software or apps.

Providing that service in Australia is illegal. So too is advertising it. But that’s exactly what they’re doing, via an all-ages-appropriate iPhone app.

What’s more, All Slots Casino is masquerading as an Australian online casino… which is also illegal. Look them up in Google and you’ll find this:

Not to mention information about Australian banking options:

And, just for good measure, the Australian flag.

All of which is also illegal. There are NO Australian online casinos.

According to the IGA, All Slots Casino is liable for fines of $1.1 million, every day it offers “interactive gambling services” to Australian residents. I’m not optimistic; not one company has been fined under the IGA in the past ten years.

But I’m still registering a complaint with ACMA (which is the correct way of doing things), and hopefully they’ll pass it on to the Australian Federal Police for further investigation.

How about it, AFP? I’ve got pics of a Canadian casino website advertising its services in Australia, to Australians, via the iPhone. They were displayed as an in-game advertisement from Mobilityware’s all-age-appropriate Solitaire app, and were taken just before 5am on Monday 17 September 2012. Any data expert would take five minutes or less to verify that they’re the real deal.

Make a difference for once. It’s about time the IGA became the real deal as well.

UPDATE 19/09 – Mobilityware’s “Solitaire” served up the All Slots Casino ad again on my iPhone today. That makes two days that I can confirm that Mobilityware and All Slots Casino have advertised a prohibited service directly into the Australian market.

UPDATE 20/09 – I’ve just been told that Zynga’s “Gems With Friends” app displayed the All Slots Casino ad today. That makes three days that All Slots Casino have advertised a prohibited service directly into the Australian market.

The running total of potential fines is now at $3.3 million… and counting.

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UPDATE 22/09

Want to see how this story ended up? MobilityWare came through and the ad has been pulled. Our email correspondence is here.

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