27 February 2018

Regulators powerless over bitcoin site offering Australian sport bets

The Australian body in charge of registering a bitcoin wagering website says it is powerless to take action against the site without a formal or official complaint being made. JustBet is an online gambling platform offering live sports betting on Australian and international sporting events, as well as interactive casino gaming. Punters can use the cryptocurrency bitcoin or US dollars.

Though registered by a Panamanian and hosted in Costa Rica, the site uses the .cx top-level domain of Christmas Island, an Australian territory in the Indian Ocean. Independent legal analysis provided to The Sports Integrity Initiative suggests the site is in breach of Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act, which prohibits online gambling sites offering certain forms of online betting to Australian customers. These prohibited forms include live sports betting and casino gaming.

While the site’s main target appears to be US gamblers, the site can be seen to also target Australian gamblers. The reasons for this include:

• its use of a .cx address;
• its offering of betting opportunities on Australian sports, in particular sports like AFL and AFLX which have little overseas following;
• its failure to blocking Australian IP address from using the site.

A spokesperson for the Christmas Island Domain Administration (CIDA) says “issues of interpretation of a specific law up to the ombudsman, experts, regulators, courts etc. In order to trigger a review we need a complaint to be lodged.” These complaints can made by a member of the public, or via a regulator or other authority.

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