With the launch of the National Self-Exclusion Register in August last year, the 10 agreed consumer protection measures under the National Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF) have now been fully implemented in all Australian jurisdictions. The NCPF measures were agreed to by the Australian Federal and State and Territory governments in 2018 and have been progressively implemented over a number of years.
In this insight, we summarise below the key developments last year in relation to this aspect of gambling regulation.1
Background to the NCPF
The NCPF consists of 10 agreed consumer protection measures. These measures provide a suite of tools available for use by individuals, as well as requirements for interactive wagering service providers, to help mitigate the risk of harm.
The 10 agreed NCPF measures, and their implementation dates,2 were as follows:
|Prohibition on lines of credit
|17 February 2018
|Restrictions in relation to payday lenders
|17 February 2018
|26 February 2019
Updated 2 May 2022
and 29 September 2023
|Restrictions on inducements
|26 November 2019
|Display of account closure information
|26 November 2019
|Voluntary opt-out pre-commitment
|26 May 2019
|31 July 2022
|Consistent responsible gambling messaging
|30 March 2023
|30 March 2023
|National Self-Exclusion Register
|21 August 2023
Consistent Responsible Gambling Messaging
Previously, the requirements relating to responsible gambling messaging that must be displayed in conjunction with gambling advertisements differed (sometimes substantially) between jurisdictions. Consistent responsible gambling messaging requirements came into effect on 30 March 2023.
The new responsible gambling messaging requirements are detailed and differ depending on the medium of the gambling advertisement (for example, digital or physical advertising) and the platform where the advertisement is published (for example, social media or television advertising).
Content will generally be considered advertising if the operator has a reasonable degree of control over how the content is published and the content promotes a betting product or service.
Generally, “advertising” is considered to be distinct from branding or sponsorship (such as brand names and logos that may appear, for example, on sporting uniforms or in the names of stadia). However, it is expected that a responsible gambling message will be included on pure branding where it is practicable to do so (for example, a billboard which displays only a logo for a wagering operator will be expected to be accompanied by a responsible gambling message).
Broadly, the new responsible gambling messaging requirements require wagering operators to ensure that all gambling advertisements contain one of the following taglines:
(a) Chances are you’re about to lose.
(b) Think. Is this a bet you really want to place?
(c) What’s gambling really costing you?
(d) What are you prepared to lose today? Set a deposit limit.
(e) Imagine what you could be buying instead.
(f) You win some. You lose more.
(g) What are you really gambling with?
These taglines must be rotated equally over a 12-month period to mitigate message fatigue. The taglines must also be accompanied by a call to action (generally “For free and confidential support call 1800 858 858 or visit gamblinghelponline.org.au”).
Operators must also ensure that the messaging is presented in clear, easy to read text in the largest possible font (for written messaging) or are spoken slowly and in an even-paced and calm manner (for spoken messaging).
Addisons have prepared a short-form guide setting out the main requirements for responsible gambling messaging across television, video, radio, in-app, digital, print, social media and website advertising and the taglines that are permitted for use on these platforms. Please contact us if you would like a copy of this guide.
Changes in relation to staff training also came into effect on 30 March 2023. The staff training measure is designed to ensure that relevant staff members of a wagering operator are properly educated as to the responsible provision of online wagering services.
All staff involved in the provision of online wagering services, or who have the capacity to influence the provision of online wagering services, are required to complete staff training. This captures, but is not limited to:
(a) staff with customer-facing roles and their team leaders or supervisors;
(b) management, leadership and executive personnel; and
(c) staff involved in marketing, communications and promotions.
In order to satisfy the staff training measure, online wagering operators are required to ensure that relevant staff undertake one of the following training courses:
- an online training course delivered by TAFE Queensland or any other accredited registered training organisation;3 or
- an internal training course that conforms with the National Unit of Competency (CHCFIN005 – Provide responsible online wagering services)4 endorsed by the Commonwealth, state and territory governments. Training courses can also be provided by relevant third parties such as Addisons.
Staff are required to undertake annual refresher training.
Customer Pre-verification (AML/CTF requirements)
From 29 September 2023, online wagering operators are required to ensure that their customers’ age and identity is verified before they are permitted to open a betting account or transact on their betting account. This replaces the previous 72-hour verification period.
Up until 28 September 2024, operators are permitted to conduct customer verification after an online betting account has been created if the operator:
- has determined on reasonable grounds that doing so is essential to avoid interrupting the ordinary course of business;
- has determined on reasonable grounds that any additional money laundering and terrorism financing (ML/TF) risk arising from doing this is low;
- has implemented appropriate risk-based systems and controls to effectively manage the associated ML/TF risks from doing this;
- has appropriate risk-based systems and controls in place to make sure the operator can carry out customer verification on the account holder as soon as practicable; and
- does not commence to provide any other designated service to the account holder (ie. does not allow the customer to transact on their account).
If these circumstances exist, customer verification can be delayed for 72 hours (but customers must still not be permitted to transact on their account in the meantime). If customer verification is not completed within these 72 hours, AUSTRAC has stated that it expects that the account will be suspended or closed.5
From 29 September 2024, operators will be required to complete customer verification before permitting a customer to create an online betting account.
BetStop – the National Self-Exclusion Register
The Australian National Self-Exclusion Register, BetStop, came into operation on 21 August 2023.
BetStop provides individuals with a tool to enable them to be excluded from all Australian-licensed online wagering operators for a minimum of 3 months (up to a lifetime exclusion). There are currently approximately 150 online betting operators licensed in Australia.
Online wagering and telephone-based operators are prohibited from:
- opening an account for any individual listed on BetStop;
- providing wagering services to any individual listed on BetStop; and
- sending electronic marketing material, or making a telemarketing call, to any individual listed on BetStop.
For individuals who already hold a betting account prior to registration with BetStop, operators are required to immediately close the account, subject to the resolution of any pending bets. Operators are prohibited from re-opening the accounts of any individuals who have been listed on BetStop. What this means in practice is that individuals who cease to be registered on BetStop are required to create a new betting account if they intend to recommence gambling activity.
Once listed on BetStop, an individual can only be removed from the BetStop register if their registration period comes to an end (for temporary self-exclusion) or if they complete a statutory declaration confirming that they have received counselling or advice to end their self-exclusion from a qualified counsellor, psychologist or doctor (for permanent self-exclusion of those who want to end their self-exclusion early).
Wagering operators are required to promote BetStop on their website and apps and in any direct marketing materials.
BetStop supplements, rather than replaces, any pre-existing self-exclusion programs (such as the barring program in South Australia). Operators will therefore need to ensure that they continue to comply with any existing self-exclusion requirements.
Further changes to wagering regulation are scheduled to come into effect in 2024. For example, in December last year, legislation seeking to ban the use of credit cards for online wagering was passed by the Australian Parliament. There are also currently several bills before the Australian parliament seeking to ban or further restrict public gambling advertising, and changes to the Northern Territory responsible gambling code of practice are due to come into effect later this year.
For further information about any of these measures or gambling compliance more generally, please contact the Addisons Gambling Law team.
1 A number of these issues were recently discussed by a panel in our Year in Review webinar. If you would like a copy of the recording of this panel, please contact us.
2 According to the Department of Social Services: see https://www.dss.gov.au/communities-and-vulnerable-people-programs-services-gambling/gambling-reforms.