Australian Self-Exclusion Register BetStop Confirmed
The government of Australia has confirmed that the new “BetStop” self-exclusion register will be launched on August 21. This register, first announced in June 2022, will allow consumers to voluntarily exclude themselves from Australian licensed pokie sites, bookmakers, and other gambling platforms.
Online operators with an Australian licence will be prohibited from opening accounts or accepting bets from individuals who register with the programme. Licensees will also be barred from sending marketing promotional messages to anyone registered with BetStop. Consumers can sign up for BetStop free of charge and complete their registration in a single transaction. Individuals can choose to self-exclude for a minimum of three months or for a lifetime.
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British Gambling Participation
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will oversee the operations of the new register. Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland stated, “Protecting Australians from online gambling harms is a key priority for our government. The launch of Australia’s first national self-exclusion register is a game changer. It will make it easy for vulnerable consumers to self-exclude from online wagering services.”
In conjunction with the launch of BetStop, the government will introduce mandatory customer pre-verification. This requires operators to verify a customer’s identity during the registration process and before placing bets. This replaces the previous requirement to verify identity within 72 hours. The government expects this change to enhance protection for underage or self-excluded individuals who have registered with BetStop. The ACMA will run a public awareness campaign across the country to promote the launch of BetStop.
Rowland added, “BetStop is the final measure to be implemented under the National Consumer Protection Framework for online wagering. These measures will empower Australian players with stronger consumer protections.”
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Other Measures To Protect Consumers
Other measures from the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering, namely consistent gambling marketing and training for staff, came into effect on March 30. The implementation of BetStop and customer pre-verification were recommended during a recent parliamentary inquiry into online gambling and its impact on individuals experiencing gambling harm. The final report was submitted to the government on June 28.
The government also convened a meeting of Commonwealth, state, and territory ministers in February, chaired by Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth. During the meeting, the ministers discussed the importance of customer pre-verification to safeguard underage or self-excluded customers. As a result, mandatory customer pre-verification will be enacted through an amendment to Chapter 10 of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules Instrument 2007. The government is working on this amendment, with completion expected by September. Additionally, the Australian government has implemented a ban on credit cards for online wagering and strengthened the classification of gambling-like features in video games.
Rishworth stated, “With the introduction of BetStop, all measures under the National Consumer Protection Framework will be realised, with significant action delivered by our government in just over a year. These measures will help minimise the harm caused by online gambling and change lives. We understand that minimising harm from online gambling requires ongoing efforts, and I look forward to collaborating with my counterparts in the states and territories on the next steps to continue this positive change.”
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Full Ban on Gambling Advertising
One further step the government may take is to implement a comprehensive ban on all forms of gambling advertising. Last month, a parliamentary inquiry recommended a phased ban across all media. The House of Representatives committee suggested a complete prohibition on gambling advertising on both broadcast media and online platforms.
The trade body Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), which represents the country’s major gambling operators, criticised the potential blanket ban as “going too far”. The recommendation followed an RWA report that estimated illegal offshore gambling could result in nearly $3 billion (3,23b NZ$) in lost taxes for Australians from 2022 to 2027.
Furthermore, a report from the Australian Gambling Research Centre (AGRC) released earlier this year highlighted concerns about gambling harm in the market. The report found that 46% of Australians who gamble are at “some risk” of experiencing gambling harms. The study also revealed that a majority of Australians (77%) believe there are “too many opportunities for online gambling nowadays” and expressed concerns about the impact of gambling on family life and supported measures to discourage it.
Additionally, 64% of the respondents agreed that the government should play a larger role in determining how wagering is advertised. Many Australians also expressed support for outright bans on gambling advertising, with 53% in favour of a watershed ban on all advertising broadcast before 10:30 PM, compared to 19% who opposed such a measure.
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