Since August, the National Self-Exclusion Register BetStop has signed up nearly 10,000 people to the service that prohibits individuals from engaging in any online or telephone-based gambling. The free-of-charge initiative stops anyone registered from opening accounts, accepting bets or being sent marketing material by any Australian licensed interactive wagering service providers, for a minimum of three months all the way up to a lifetime.
Online gambling participation is up more than twice what it was 10 years ago, approximately 3.5 million Australian adults engage with various providers through their mobile devices. It’s estimated that around one million of these people are endangered by gambling harm, which isn’t surprising given this country has one of the highest gambling losses per adult in the world and loses $25 billion every year to it.
According to the data, most of BetStop’s registrants are under the age of 40, took less than five minutes to sign up, and set their restriction period to a lifetime. On top of this, more than 1200 people have been nominated by registered users to support them through their self-exclusion period.
BetStop was set up by the Albanese Government as the final measure of the National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering, which Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland said is part of the government’s commitment to minimise the harms related to online gambling.
Ensuring the gambling industry complies with the Register’s mandate is the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), who as part of their work must check that all wagering service providers promote BetStop on their websites and apps.
“Our Government is focused on preventing and minimising the harm caused by online wagering and we’ve taken a number of positive steps towards achieving that goal,” said Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth.
“We know minimising the harm caused by online wagering is not a set-and-forget exercise and our government is working closely with our state and territory counterparts on what comes next now all measures under the National Consumer Protection Framework have been implemented.”
Another measure introduced by the Government is mandatory pre-verification, which requires customers opening a new online gambling account to verify their identity so that less underage Australians and BetStop registrants get through to place a bet.
In September, a bill was passed by parliament banning the use of credit cards and digital currencies for online gambling, with fines of up to $234,750 for any companies that fail to comply. The Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) implemented recommendations from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services in November 2021.
“It’s as simple as this: people should not be betting with money they do not have,” said Communications Minister Rowlands at the time.
“The Australian Government remains committed to protecting Australians from gambling harms.
“I would like to thank the wide variety of stakeholders, including harm reduction advocates, wagering and lottery providers, and banking payment organisations, for their contributions to and support for this Bill.”