In an attempt to curb gambling addiction, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has announced that it will set up a voluntary betting exclusion scheme starting in August. The national self-exclusion platform, BetStop, will enable Australians to exclude themselves from all 150 licensed online gambling companies for a period from three months up to a lifetime.
Those companies will not be allowed to open accounts in the name of, accept wagers from or send marketing materials to anyone who is on the register. The program will roll out on August 21, along with new rules that will require online gambling companies to verify a customer’s identity before they can place a bet.
BetStop’s website notes that the service will be free, and the personal details of those who register will be protected. If someone self-excludes, the wagering providers will be required to close all their betting accounts and will not let the person place a bet, let them open a new account, or send them marketing messages.
Michelle Rowland, the Minister for Communications, Australia
“The launch of Australia’s first National Self-Exclusion Register, BetStop, is a game changer, and will make it easy for vulnerable consumers to self-exclude from online wagering services,” Michelle Rowland, the Minister for Communications, said.
“BetStop is the last of 10 measures to be implemented under the National Consumer Protection Framework for online wagering to empower Australians through stronger consumer protections.”
The measure comes amid ongoing debates to tackle problem gambling in Australia. Last month, an Australian parliamentary committee urged the federal government to ban advertising for online gambling during sporting events within three years. The ban would take place in a phased manner that would give sporting bodies and broadcasters enough time to find alternative sources of advertising revenue.
The committee was chaired by Labor MP Peta Murphy, who pointed out that Australians were among the biggest gambling losers anywhere in the world. Xinhua.net cited a March survey published by the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS) which found that 73% of Australians gambled at least once in the last 12 months, nearly half of whom were considered at risk of gambling harm.
A separate report by the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (AIHW) noted that citizens lost AUD 25 billion ($16.7 billion) in gambling in 2018-2019, more per capita than any other country.