Betstop Launch Date Arrives

Betstop Launch Date Arrives
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The Australian government has officially launched the new national self-exclusion register, known as BetStop.

The site, which will allow Australians to self-exclude from gambling for a minimum of three months to indefinitely, will include both online and phone-based operators. It comes after years of community advocacy warning against gambling harm, particularly for vulnerable Australians.

The site will be regulated by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which will also launch a public awareness campaign about the register.

The National Consumer Protection Framework

Plans to launch BetStop were first announced in June 2022, which is the final measure in the Federal Government’s National Consumer Protection Framework for Online Wagering. The framework consists of 10 consumer protection measures to provide tools for consumers relating to online wagering service providers.

The goal of the measures is to mitigate gambling harm from online wagering.

Some of the other measures include:

  • Prohibiting lines of credit
  • Discouraging payday lenders for online gambling
  • Reducing customer verification periods
  • Making it easier for customers to close their online gambling accounts

Kai Cantwell, CEO of Responsible Wagering Australia, said, “The implementation of BetStop means that all 10 of the National Consumer Protection Framework measures are now up and running, giving customers the power to stay in control of their own gambling behaviour”.

Australia’s Fight Against Gambling Harm

According to the latest Australian Gambling Statistics Report, Aussies spent almost $175 billion on online gambling during the 2019-20 financial year. That’s a 25% increase from the previous year and an amount that equates to just over $11,000 per capita.

For years, community groups have been advocating for a national self-exclusion register.

Lauren Levin, Director of Policy and Campaigns at Financial Counselling Australia, said, “We started advocating for this in 2015 and didn’t give up because we always knew that an online gambling self-exclusion register would help a lot of people”.

BetStop follows the introduction of a raft of other legislation reforms in Australia, including banning the use of credit cards for online gambling. Victoria has also introduced what Premier Dan Andrews has called the toughest gambling and anti-money laundering measures for gaming machines nationwide.

Other steps include implementing mandatory activity statements each month so players can easily see their wins vs. losses. And strengthening classifications of gambling-like features in video games.

The government is also set to introduce mandatory customer pre-verification by the end of September.

The new rules will mean operators need to verify a customer’s identity when they register for an account before they place any bets. This replaces the existing requirements of operators to verify a customer’s identity within 72 hours.

National Self-Exclusion Register for Individuals

BetStop will mean people can self-exclude from 150 online wagering providers with just the click of a button, for an indefinite self-exclusion period.

The new self-exclusion register covers all Australian licensed interactive wagering service providers. Operators won’t be allowed to open a new account or accept any bets from individuals who have self-excluded. Wagering providers also can’t send any self-excluded individuals any advertising or marketing material.

In addition, service providers are required to promote BetStop on their websites, apps and via marketing material. Once a person has registered, interactive wagering service providers need to close all betting accounts owned by the person.

What’s Next?

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth acknowledged that there was still more to be done to reduce the harm of online gambling and that the government’s approach wasn’t a “set-and-forget exercise”.

“I look forward to working with my state and territory counterparts on what comes next to continue this positive change,” she said.

Community groups and gambling harm advocates are already calling for BetStop to be extended to all forms of gambling, including casinos, pokies, and lotteries.

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Olivia Hughes
Olivia Hughes
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