The Government is working on new legislation that would create the first domestic self-exclusion register for Australians. The register would be a part of the National Consumer Protection Framework dating back to 2015 when the O’Farrell Review of Australia's iGaming environment revealed inconsistencies in the way gambling controls were used to keep domestic gamblers protected. PM Morrison based his proposal on the recent release of the baseline study results belonging to the same framework. According to the study results, 52% of gamblers were at risk of gambling harm.
Morrison is pushing for a Self-Exclusion register that would enable gamblers who feel are at risk of addiction or other harm to self-ban from all casino and sports betting gambling websites. The register would hide gambling ads that promote casino offers and games and it would be valid all across the country. Aussie punters spend more than $23 billion a year on their gambling, with most punters experiencing zero gambling-related problems. Nonetheless, for people who may be using gambling as a form of dealing with some serious underlying psychological health issues, the register could prove to be useful. The main focus is thrown on gambling addiction and its associated problems.
Players who for one reason or another would like to take some time off from gambling could opt for a self-exclusion period of a minimum of three months, up to an undetermined period of time. It would be entirely up to them and the type of problem they may be dealing with. The self-exclusion would be initiated through a simple procedure that would prohibit online gambling operators from advertising their services and products to a player who has chosen to self-exclude from all gambling sites.
All funds in a player's active online casino account would be returned to them as soon as all wagers and bets are properly settled. After this step, the consumer's account would be closed for the preset timeframe. Gambling could be resumed once the self-banning period would expire.
The body responsible for the implementation of the register is the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and the register would be equally enforced across all state boundaries. All the associated costs of setting up this self-exclusion register are expected to be covered by casino operators in order to make sure their contribution will be fair and also to stimulate them to work on providing safer gambling environments.
The Government has started taking a series of measures to limit unlicensed operators' activity in the country and blacklist them from the industry. One of the most recent measures was ACMA's decision to force local Internet Service Providers to block illegal casino websites. So far, ACMA has issued the first two casino blocking orders for FairGo Casino and Emu Casino.
According to Anne Ruston, Families and Social Services Minister, the PM's proposal could be of help to problem gamblers. While the need to preserve a safe and healthy gambling environment where Aussies can enjoy a punt every once in a while continues to exist, there is an even more burning need to come up with the most efficient measures to stop addicts from perpetuating their problem. Support must also be given to problem gamblers and their families that are subject to the risks of this addiction.
The Prime Minister's proposal could strongly motivate problem gamblers into giving themselves time to breathe and steer clear of unhealthy gaming. This should allow them to gradually change their behaviour and at the same time keep the risks associated with problem gambling to a minimum. Once the register would become fully operational, ACMA will begin the regulation of all interactive wagering providers with a license and make sure they fully comply with the current legislation.
At the end of 2018, the governments of all six Australian states promised to launch a national consumer protection policy, with the federal government planning an action plan targeting the protection of consumers.
This spring, Victoria became the first Australian state to implement the new measures that require virtual betting operators to fully comply with all requirements related to bans on those stimuli that may encourage players to keep wagering, deposit limits, and restrictions on direct marketing.
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