BetStop a Good Start but Expansion is Needed

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Problem Solution

Original media release from Financial Counselling Australia (21/02/2024).

Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) has welcomed the news that thousands of people have already signed up for BetStop – the new online gambling exclusion register, but cautions there is much more to be done.

The Federal Government launched BetStop six months ago and today they announced more than 18,000 people have registered.

“These numbers are a good start, but we are still way behind our European counterparts and we call on the government to fund an ongoing, public campaign so that more people know about Betstop’, said Lauren Levin, the director of Policy and Campaigns with FCA.

“Financial counsellors are finding that many people presenting with severe gambling harm do not know about BetStop. This indicates that we need a properly funded media awareness campaign. BetStop is a much-needed service, but if people don’t know about it, they will not use it,” Ms Levin said.

FCA also remains committed to encouraging the federal and state governments to expand the register to other forms of gambling as well.

“BetStop needs to include casinos, pokies and lotteries. We know that people gamble across multiple forms. So, they need decent protections across all channels, and that is certainly not what they are getting right now,” Ms Levin said.

Australia is way behind European countries in providing the basic consumer protection of being able to choose to exclude from all forms of gambling, easily and effectively. For some people, lotteries are a problem, and we know that casinos and gaming venues are highly problematic for many families too. A one-stop website is needed.

Currently, there are no supports or guardrails in place for those who remove themselves from BetStop. FCA calls on the government to put gambling companies on notice that it can’t be ‘business as usual’ for this cohort of people, they need special attention.

“No one should come off BetStop and be able to gamble without a sensible deposit limit in place. Right now, a person can revoke the self-exclusion and the following day they can bet $100,000 which is clearly absurd,” Ms Levin said.

The new BetStop data shows that 1400 people have revoked their self-exclusion, and this group are most at risk.

FCA, along with other gambling reform organisations, has been lobbying for comprehensive consumer protections including a statutory duty of care, mandatory deposit limits, and a ban on inducements and advertising.

“Many European countries have done so much more, and their gambling levels are nowhere near Australia’s level of harm. We really are the worst performers when it comes to gambling consumer protection.”

“We’re proud that FCA helped to get BetStop up and running but let’s not lose sight of the bigger picture and the need to reduce the devastating harm caused by gambling. We eagerly await the Government’s announcements on the ground-breaking Murphy Report recommendations. This is where the once in a generation opportunity lies, as opposed to the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff.”

BetStop: visit here or
Gamblers Help: 1800 858 858
National Debt Helpline: 1800 007 007 and (online chat)

Note: Gambling financial counsellors help people impacted by gambling, both the person gambling and those impacted by someone else’s gambling. It is a free, independent and confidential service.