Financial Counselling Australia welcomes the bill to establish the National Online Gambling Self-Exclusion Register. The Bill was introduced this week in Federal Parliament by the Minister for Communications, the Hon. Paul Fletcher.
The register means that people experiencing harm can press one button and self-exclude from all the online wagering companies. With that single trigger, the wagering operators and their agents will not be permitted to contact that person.
Four years ago FCA released its report ‘Duds, Mugs and the A-List: the impact of Uncontrolled Sportsbetting’ which documented the predatory practices of gambling companies that financial counsellors were seeing among clients who gambled online. A key recommendation was that the government establish a national register for people to self-exclude. FCA is delighted the legislation has been introduced.
Current predatory practices include people being bombarded with gambling texts, emails and phone-calls, plus social media targeted advertising. When people self-exclude from one company, they are sometimes contacted by other gambling related businesses and subject to more inducements to bet in some form.
“With all this marketing, it is very difficult for those struggling with addictions to get out of the clutches of gambling marketers,” said Lauren Levin, FCA Director Policy and Campaigns.
“Relapsing is tough on the individual and their families. It comes with a profound sense of failure, and is a dangerous time for those struggling. This Bill is an important step for people seeking support to change their lives.”
The Bill has criminal and significant civil penalties and sends a signal to the gambling industry that it will have to provide services in a responsible manner, or face serious consequences by the regulator Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).
If wagering operators or others acting on their behalf, try to influence the person to change their mind about being on the register, they will be caught by strong bribery offences.
Once legislated, the register still has to go to tender. The target date for it to be up and running is May 26 next year.
FCA thanks Minister Fletcher and the Minister for Social Services, the Hon. Anne Ruston, and their departmental teams for their support. The Online Gambling National Consumer Protection Framework lays the foundation for improved consumer protection in online gambling.
FCA Media Release 29/11/119. Media Contact: Lauren Levin, Director, Policy & Campaigns, 0411050 035