Reducing gambling harm is a key metric for the Australian government. Tens of thousands of Australians are considered to be problem gamblers. Sadly, Australia has the most problem gamblers per capita in the entire world.
Several measures are in place to help protect those who like to gamble. For example, there are new verification processes in place. ISPs are blocking offshore gambling sites and facial recognition is in development. The next step of the National Consumer Protection Framework is a new self-exclusion register.
Anne Ruston, the Minister for Families and Social Services, put the proposal forward during the last week of November. In short, the new system allows people to ban themselves from online casinos and sportsbooks in one fell swoop.
The current system is laborious. Gamblers must contact each individual operator if they want to exclude themselves from gambling product. Furthermore, those with a gambling problem often “forget” to close an account or two and continue punting.
A national self-exclusion register makes it possible to ban yourself from all gambling products immediately. Operators sign up to the scheme and a player is banned from all gaming products from all sites if they self-exclude themselves from one of the sites on the self-exclusion register.
The length of exclusion ranges from three months to a permanent ban.
Ruston said, “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.”
“The National Self-Exclusion Register is a voluntary process where an individual can ban themselves from using all interactive wagering services across state boundaries for a period ranging from three months or permanently through one simple process.
“It is a measure that we believe will motivate gamblers to have periods where they do not gamble online at all as a way of changing their behaviour and minimising the risk they face of gambling-related harm.”
It is the responsibility of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to implement the register. These were the words of Paul Fletcher, Minister for Communications, Cyber Safety and the Arts.
“This legislation is an important step to help Australian gamblers minimise 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.”
Fletcher added, “If you exclude from one, you exclude from all – this is a first in Australia.”
Guidelines set out by the ACMA make it a requirement for operators to return all funds to a person who has self-excluded themselves. Operators are then banned from contacting self-excluded gamblers with any correspondence. Their accounts are permanently closed in some circumstances.
Anything in place that helps limit gambling harm is positive in our eyes. Everyone at Pokies.com wants Australians to gamble responsibly and enjoy playing pokies and casino games. We are also aware that this is not possible for some people due to their addictive personalities.
A self-exclusion register is a great idea, at least if taken at face value. For example, giving players the ability to ban themselves from all online gambling activity is a positive step. Will it be effective? Possibly.
The main problem lies with the fact many Australians gamble with offshore operators. Operators with an Australian license, such as bet365, will have to sign up to the self-exclusion register. They have no choice in the matter. Online casinos offering their services to Australians from countries such as Malta and Curacao won’t have to sign up. Indeed, they won’t want to sign up as many shouldn’t be targeting Aussies in the first place.