On 13 December 2019, legislation to establish the National Self-Exclusion Register (the Register) came into effect. The Interactive Gambling Amendment (National Self-exclusion Register) Act 2019 and the National Self-exclusion Register (Cost Recovery Levy) Act 2019 (the IGA Self-Exclusion Amendments) amended the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 (IGA).
Although the IGA Self-Exclusion Amendments are now law, there remains much to be organised before the Register becomes operational. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has established a task-force based in Melbourne to project manage the process of implementing the Register.
The Register is unlikely to be operational until the second half of 20211 at the earliest. Further information on the implementation of the Register is expected to be announced in the coming weeks.
Persons will be able to exclude themselves from the services of all online betting operators licensed in Australia (Licensees). Their details will be recorded on the Register. However, the self-exclusion process will not apply to other licensed online gambling operators (such as lotteries), and land-based betting service providers (on the basis that the land-based licensed gambling industry is already subject to state-based self-exclusion regimes).
The IGA Self-Exclusion Amendments establish the legal framework necessary for the Register to be created and implemented, and provide for cost recovery. Details on how the Register will function, including the information to be collected in the Register, and the Licensees’ obligations on) are expected to be set out in Rules that will be published by the ACMA.
National Consumer Protection Framework
The establishment of the Register is one of the 10 consumer protection measures which are being implemented under the National Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF) for online betting in Australia. The NCPF is a commitment between the Australian Federal Government and all the States and Territories to establish a nationally consistent framework in respect of the regulation of licensees to implement consumer protection measures.2
How will the Register work?
An individual wishing to be excluded from participation in Australian licensed online betting services can register on the Register and apply to be excluded (Registered Individual). The Registered Individual may choose to be excluded either:
- for a temporary period (with a minimum duration of 3 months); or
There will also be processes which entitles Registered Individuals to revoke or extend exclusion periods. Further details will be included in the Rules.
Registered Individuals may nominate support persons who, although they will not have any power to register an individual on the Register or revoke or extend an exclusion, will be entitled to be given notice in advance of the relevant Registered Individual’s exclusion period coming to an end. This measure will provide support from the person nominated to assist a Registered Individual to evaluate if the exclusion period should be extended.
Licensees are prohibited from providing online betting services to Registered Individuals. Furthermore, Licensees are prohibited from sending, or causing to be sent, to a Registered Individual:
- an offer to provide their services; and
- advertisements/promotions of their services by electronic means (i.e. email, IM, SMS or similar) or by physical direct marketing (i.e. by post or similar).
Also, Licensees are prohibited from:
- making, or causing to be made, a telemarketing call to a telephone number of a Registered Individual;
- disclosing information about a Registered Individual for marketing purposes;
- opening a betting account for a Registered Individual; and
- providing an incentive to influence a person not to become a Registered Individual or to cease to be a Registered Individual (which is referred to as “bribery” in the IGA Self-Exclusion Amendments).
If a Licensee fails to comply with any of these prohibitions, it may become liable to civil and criminal penalties. The highest penalty for providing online betting services to a Registered Individual is 750 penalty units (which amounts currently to $787,500 for corporations). A separate offence would be committed each day that a contravention continues. There is an exception to these penalties when a Licensee takes reasonable precautions, and exercises due diligence, to avoid the contravention.
How will the Register be funded?
The Register will not be funded from taxpayers’ funds. Instead, the Register will be industry funded through the imposition of a levy on Licensees who make at least one request in the relevant financial year enquiring whether an individual is a Registered Individual.
The amount of this levy has not yet been established. The amount will, however, be calculated under a method to be determined by the ACMA in consultation with the Minister. The levy will cover the costs of implementing and running the Register, including costs of the ACMA in monitoring, and taking enforcement action, in relation to the Register.
When the Register comes into operation, Licensees will need to be proactive in complying with their obligations in respect of the Register. Licensees will need to ensure that they make regular requests to the Register to verify which individuals are registered, and have systems in place to ensure that Registered Individuals are not granted access to online betting services and/or sent marketing.
The Register is a key NCPF measure; all existing and prospective Licensees should follow any developments in the implementation of the Register so that they are in a position to implement the requirements relating to the Register in a timely manner.
If you would like further information on the NCPF, the Register, and/or to be updated with any developments, please contact a member of the Addisons Gambling team.
1. The ACMA confirmed in its written reply of 1 November 2019 to the Senate Standing Committee on Environment and Communications that it should take a minimum of 18 months from when the IGA is amended for the Register to be implemented.
2. For further reading on the NCPF, please refer to our previous focus papers which discuss the NCPF: Restrictions on Gambling Advertising – Latest Measures Introduced under the National Consumer Protection Framework, which may be accessed at https://addisons.com/knowledge/insights/restrictions-on-gambling-advertising-latest-measures-introduced-under-the-national-consumer-protection-framework/; and
The National Consumer Protection Framework: An Analysis of the Regulatory Impact Statement and its Effect on Australian Online Wagering, which can be accessed at https://addisons.com/knowledge/insights/the-national-consumer-protection-framework-an-analysis-of-the-regulatory-impact-statement-and-its-effect-on-australian-online-wagering/
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