Further steps have been taken by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) towards establishing Australia’s National Self-Exclusion Register (the Register) for online and phone gambling.1 The ACMA announced recently that the project will be led by Engine Australia, the developer of the United Kingdom’s self-exclusion system, GAMSTOP.
Details of the Register 2
The Register will allow users of interactive gambling services to self-exclude from all licensed interactive gambling service operators (Operators) through a single platform. This means that users will not have to self-exclude from each Operator or through other separate programs, as is currently the case. Individuals that apply to the Register (Registered Individuals) to self-exclude will be able to set the period of their exclusion, which may range from a period of three months to permanent exclusion.
Obligations for Operators 3
Operators will have obligations under Part 7B of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 in relation to the Register. Among other things, Operators will be prohibited during the nominated self-exclusion period from:
- providing online betting services to any Registered Individuals;
- sending (or causing to be sent) direct marketing material to Registered Individuals, including electronic (e.g. email or SMS), phone or physical marketing;
- opening a betting account for a Registered Individual;
- disclosing information about a Registered Individual for marketing purposes; and
- providing an incentive to users with the intention of influencing them not to apply to the Register or to cease being registered.
Operators will be required to close any account held by a Registered Individual as soon as possible, and:
- if the account has a credit balance—pay the Registered Individual an amount equal to the credit balance; and
- if the account would have a credit balance if the total amount of debts owed by the individual before becoming a Registered Individual were deducted from the account—pay the individual an amount equal to the difference between the balance of the account and the total amount of those debts.
It should be noted that the closure of an account does not prevent the recovery of a debt owed by an individual to an Operator.
The project is now entering the next phase of development, with trialling of the Register expected to commence later this year. The Register is on track to be active by mid-2022.
The ACMA is set to begin consultations with interactive gambling industry stakeholders, advocacy groups and consumers on the design of the new system.
With the introduction of the National Self-exclusion Register (Cost Recovery Levy) Act 2019, all costs to set up and administer the Register will be recovered from Operators. Rules about the technical and operational details of the Register, including the procedures that Operators must follow and the charges that industry will pay, will be established under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 before its launch.
Once the Register is active, the ACMA will implement a compliance and enforcement program in relation to the new rules.
While the Register is in development, individuals can still register with existing programs or contact Operators directly if they wish to self-exclude.
For more information regarding the Register, or responsible gambling obligations of Operators generally, please contact a member of the Addisons Gambling Law team.
1. See the ACMA media release “Significant milestone for Australia’s first national gambling self-exclusion register”.
2. For background to the Register, see our Focus Paper ‘Australia – Online Wagering National Self-Exclusion Register’.
3. It is noted that the Register will only apply to person wishing to self-exclude from online wagering services.