Australia’s first gambling self-exclusion register is one step closer

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
Australia’s first gambling self-exclusion register is one step closer

An Australian first national gambling self-exclusion register for online and phone gambling has taken a major step forward.

Mirage News reports that Engine Australia has been appointed to deliver the gambling self-exclusion register project on behalf of the Australian Communications and Media Authority.

The National Self-Exclusion Register will allow people to self-exclude from all licensed interactive wagering service providers in a single process.

People will be able to be excluded from anywhere between three months to permanently.

Exclusion will cover licensed online and telephone betting services, such as those offering betting on horse racing and sports.

Providers will also be prohibited from directly advertising and promoting to any self-excluded person.

ACMA chair Nerida O’Loughlin welcomed Engine’s appointment and said it was a significant step toward a critical consumer safeguard.

“The register will make a difference for people who want help changing their gambling habits and it will complement existing consumer protection measures,” Ms O’Loughlin said.

“If you choose to self-exclude, the register will ensure your account is closed, your money returned and no further advertising or promotion activity will be directed your way.

“Engine is well placed to deliver this protection having designed and developed GAMSTOP, the United Kingdom’s self-exclusion register.”

Ms O’Loughlin said the project now moves into its next phase of development with the ACMA to begin extensive consultations with stakeholders.

“Through our consultation, we will engage with the interactive wagering industry on the design of the system and the rules around the operation of the register.

“We will also work with consumers and advocacy groups to ensure that the register meets the needs of users, including putting in place robust privacy safeguards.”

Engine will now commence initial design and development of the solution.

Trialling of the service is expected to commence later this year ahead of an anticipated launch before mid-2022.

While the register is being implemented, people can contact individual wagering providers to self-exclude from their services or register with other existing programs, such as that offered by the Northern Territory Racing Commission, which covers many of the large corporate bookmakers in Australia.

Australia leads the world for per capita gambling losses

In Australia, gambling losses per capita are the highest in the world, at US$958 in 2017.

That means the average Australian loses around $1236 gambling every year.

Shockingly, 39 per cent of the Australian population say they are “regular gamblers”.

Those who like to buy a lottery ticket were the most common, followed by instant scratchies and then poker machines.

And those who live in low-income households spend a greater proportion of their disposable income, around 10 per cent, on gambling, compared to high income households, who spend one per cent.

The money lost through gambling doesn’t just end up in the hands of gambling companies, with the Australian government receiving substantial revenues from the products.

The government made over half a billion dollars in 2019 from taxing the gaming industry.

Those hitting the pokies are losing the most according to the Australian Gaming Council, with gaming machines accounting for $12.5 billion in losses in any given year.

Most of this comes in New South Wales, where poker machines made $6.5 million in 2019, roughly the GDP of Fiji.

Australia is home to 20 per cent of the world’s poker machines because it is one of the few countries that allows the machines outside of casinos.

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