- »Australia to Introduce National Self-Exclusion Register
Australia to Introduce National Self-Exclusion Register
The Australian government has been working to take a tougher stance on gambling. The larger picture shows efforts to provide a gambling environment for Aussies that reduces the amount of gambling harm and enables customers to more easily obtain help if harm does exist. From new customer verification processes to the new self-exclusion register, it is all a part of the National Consumer Protection Framework launched by the government in 2018.
Report Recommends Register
Australian Minister for Families and Social Services, Senator Anne Ruston, took the step of releasing the final report on the National Framework study. This was done during the last week of November.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies conducted an independent study. This included an online consumer survey that included more than 5,000 people who place online bets. The study also included a review of online wagering service providers and gambling regulators – interviews with them and examinations of their websites.
Of the survey participants, a majority of 52% were classified as being at risk of or already experiencing gambling related harm.
This number, along with other findings, substantiates the government’s decision to implement the National Framework, which now includes the recommendation of a national self-exclusion registry.
Words from Ruston and Fletcher
Ruston worked with MP Paul Fletcher, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts in announcing a plan based on the study.
Without delay, the Morrison government plans to legislate for an online nationwide self-exclusion registry.
People will be able to ban themselves from all online wagering websites and apps with a single action. It will apply across all state boundaries. They can choose to do so for as short a time as three months or as long as a lifetime.
Anyone on the register will be shielded from advertising and promotions. All Aussie online gambling operators will be prohibited from contacting them for those reasons.
If players have money in their online accounts, the operators will be required to send all monies to the player – when all bets are settled – and then close the accounts.
“As much as possible, government policy should preserve Australians’ ability to enjoy a punt while putting in place sensible and targeted measures to prevent and support gamblers facing significant risks of harm,” said Ruston.
ACMA Regulation and Oversight
The Australian Communications and Media Authority will oversee the National Self-Exclusion Register upon its launch. The governmental body will monitor online betting sites for compliance and offer support to customers who want to or do sign up for self-exclusion.
All costs associated with establishing the registry, launching and maintaining it, and overseeing it will be covered by online gambling operators. It will ensure that they “contribute their fair share and encourage them to provide safe environments for their customers.”
Fletcher noted that the ACMA will provide all of the support and oversight necessary to make the registry an effective tool. “The legislation is an important step to help Australian gamblers minimize their risks.”
What is the National Framework?
Officially, it is the National Consumer Protection Framework.
It all started with the 2015 Review of Illegal Offshore Wagering. This examined how gambling has adapted to the latest technologies, specifically by offering online betting. And it was then determined to be a $1.4 billion-per-year business.
Further, Australians were losing $64 million to $400 million per year on offshore sites. This are mostly ones not regulated by the Australian government.
To address the problem, the government took numerous steps to change policy to adapt to the new environment. One of those steps was the establishment of the National Consumer Protection Framework, which was announced at the end of November 2018.
The overall goal was to hold the gambling industry accountable. It is required to better inform gamblers of their individual wagering activities and offer them tools that are simple and can help control their gambling habits and activities.
Slow but Sure Steps
Three months later, the government announced the first measure from the National Framework to be approved and implemented. It was a customer verification system that expedited the process of verifying customer ages and identities. A time period that was previously 90 days was shortened to a maximum of 14 days.
In early 2019, the verification rules will be evaluated and reviewed. If they determine the transition to 14 days had been successful, they will push for another reduction of time. The ultimate goal is to reduce the verification period to just 72 hours.
The second tool to be implemented from the National Framework is the self-exclusion register.
Ruston is pleased to put the measure before the legislature for what she hopes will be a quick approval. It is expected to be available within the first half of 2020 to everyone in Australia.