The NSW Office of Responsible Gambling (ORG) has urged people not to gamble using overseas gambling sites such as casino games and slot machines.

Director of ORG Natalie Wright said that with many sports suspended, and pubs, clubs and casinos temporarily closed, there is a risk that more people will turn to these sites that are not regulated.

“Overseas gambling websites are illegal in Australia, and people who use them face additional risks than when they gamble with a licensed Australian operator,” Ms Wright said.

“Some of these sites look legitimate, and they even look like they are Australian by using images such as the Australian flag and native animals.”

As these companies are located offshore, players are at a high risk of not seeing their money again.

“These sites are illegal under the Commonwealth Interactive Gambling Act 2001, and because they’re not regulated, there are no safeguards to protect people,” Ms Wright added.

Under the legislation, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has the power to ask internet service providers to block overseas gambling sites operating illegally in Australia.

Common risks associated with overseas gambling sites include:

· not being able to access winnings

· winnings or credit disappearing when operators shut down or move

· operators withdrawing additional funds from players’ bank accounts without approval.

Illegal overseas gambling sites can include:

· casino-style games

· slot machines

· scratchies

· betting on the outcome of lotteries or keno (‘synthetic’ lotteries)

· services that provide ‘in-play’ betting on sports events

wagering services not licensed by an Australian state or territory.

“For people that do want to gamble online, you should only use services licensed in Australia, as there are consumer safeguards in place and responsible gambling options, such as the ability to set time and expenditure limits,” Ms Wright said.

The NSW Gambling Helpline and online treatment and support services remain available 24 hours a day, seven days a week and can be reached on 1800 858 858 or gamblinghelp.nsw.gov.au.