Australia Proposes National Self-Exclusion Register for Online Gamblers

  • Government called for self-exclusion scheme under newly released National Framework
  • Licensed online sportsbooks will pay all costs associated with establishing and operating register
  • Self-exclusion options will range from three months to permanent
Computer keyboard with key showing Australian flag and a "bet" key
Australia’s ruling coalition party plans to enact a self-exclusion scheme for the country’s online sports bettors, as part of its National Consumer Protection Framework. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Morrison government to introduce legislation

Australia’s Liberal-National Coalition government plans to legislate the creation of a national self-exclusion register for online gamblers.

The register, which was jointly announced by the Ministry for Families and Social Services and the Ministry for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts, will allow Aussies to block themselves from all licensed online sportsbooks serving the country in a single move.

Part of a national framework

The plans accompany the publication of a 144-page National Consumer Protection Framework, a report which builds on a major survey of more than 5,000 of Australia’s online sports bettors.

study was undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies to set a benchmark for the sector

The aim of the research, according to Australian officials, was to establish base levels for online wagering participation and the prevalence of risky gambling behaviour. The survey also sought to understand the levels of online wagering consumer harm ahead of the full implementation of the National Framework.

The baseline study was undertaken by the Australian Institute of Family Studies to set a benchmark for the sector.

Originally announced in November 2018, the National Framework is among several facets of Australia’s ongoing regulatory push. A cash-payment cap for online wagering enacted in July is another such measure.

No marketing to self-excluded patrons

The Australian government announced several elements of the self-blocking initiative.

Under the proposed register, interactive wagering service providers will be banned from directly advertising and promoting to any person who opts for self-exclusion. All funds held in any self-excluding customer’s active accounts must be returned to that consumer once all wagers are settled. All accounts that the customer holds across all service providers must then be closed.

service providers will be banned from directly advertising and promoting to any person who opts for self-exclusion

According to a ministry statement, all costs to set up and administer the register will be recovered from Australia’s licensed interactive wagering providers. The plan is “to ensure they contribute their fair share and encourage them to provide safe environments for their customers.”

Following the legislation’s passage, the Australian Communications and Media Authority will implement the self-exclusion register. Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts Paul Fletcher described it as “an important step to help Australian gamblers minimize their risks. Once the Register is operational ACMA will regulate licensed interactive wagering providers so they comply with the legislation and make sure people receive the support they need.”

Focus on preventing gambling harm

The Ministry for Families and Social Services kept its primary focus on the need to prevent problem gamblers from harming themselves while gambling online. It views the self-exclusion registry as a key element within the National Framework.

“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,” Minister Anne Ruston said.

Ruston also noted that while the self-exclusion would be global in online reach, the options would range from three months to permanent, as currently conceptualized.