Australia: Govt to launch national online gambling self-exclusion register BetStop

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The Australian government is set to launch a national self-exclusion register for online gambling called ‘BetStop’ where citizens can register themselves to be excluded from being permitted to gamble online through a single form across the country.

The register will launch on August 21, five years after the law was first introduced back in 2018 by the then communications minister, Paul Fletcher but was never implemented. BetStop aims to become a one-stop solution to prevent people suffering from gambling addiction to lose more money.

Although there are systems in place in all states and territories to address this very issue they have been found to be ineffective as they do not cover all gambling companies. BetStop, on the other hand, is expected to fill the gaps left by those systems at the national level.

It will cover over 70 online bookmakers that are currently licensed and operational in Australia. The goal is to not only to make it available to players but also encourage them to sign up and self-exclude in the first place.

Incumbent communications minister, Michelle Rowland will launch BetStop at Parliament House today. Also, recently, a parliamentary committee inquiry report into online gambling recommended a ban on all gambling advertisements over the next three years.

“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,” said Rowland.

“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,” she added.

Social services minister, Amanda Rishworth also lauded the move and added that an effective self-exclusion register can help the cause greatly. One thing to not is that as soon as BetStop launches, people who have already registered under local and state programs will need to register again.

“Not a week passes without someone reaching out with a devastating story about their son, or friend, or about being broken and wanting to end their shame. There is a hidden epidemic of gambling harm. It is far worse than most people think,” said Lauren Levin, a long-time harm reduction campaigner.

“Now that BetStop is in place, the next step is to make self-exclusion work for people with a national self-exclusion register that covers all forms of gambling, not just online gambling,” she added.

Levin believes that it will not only minimize the harm of gambling but will outright prevent it. This will, especially, be helpful for people with problem gambling.

On the flip side, however, betting companies that are not registered and operating illegally will continue to target consumers. The access to these websites will still be needed to be kept in check through the Australian Media and Communications Authority (ACMA). The authority has time and again issued directives to local ISPs and blocked over 700 illegal betting websites so far.

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