Betting ban register a sure thing for problem gamblers

Problem gamblers can now ban themselves from betting services and advertising.

A government-run self-exclusion register, known as BetStop, has been rolled out to help minimise the risk of problem gambling.

Signing up to the register prevents users being able to lodge a bet online or over the phone with any betting company in the country, or receive advertising.

People can sign up to the register for a minimum of three months or they can be on it permanently.

The register was the final measure recommended by a national consumer protection framework for online wagering.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said it would help protect vulnerable Australians.

“BetStop will change lives for the better, giving Australians most at risk of gambling harm the support they need to self-exclude from interactive licensed wagering,” she said.

All betting companies are required to promote the register.

The launch coincides with measures requiring betting companies to verify customer ID when they register for a new account and before they place a bet.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said the register would change the lives of problem gamblers.

“We know minimising the harm caused by online gambling is not a set and forget exercise and I look forward to working with my state and territory counterparts on what comes next to continue this positive change,” she said.

A parliamentary inquiry earlier this year recommended online gambling ads be phased out within a three-year period.

The government said it was considering the recommendations of the inquiry.

Responsible Wagering Australia chief executive Kai Cantwell welcomed the introduction of BetStop.

He said it was reassuring the service was running and possible problems with the register would be smoothed out before football finals next month.

“We are hopeful that our feedback has been taken on board, as any system failures – especially during peak periods such as Melbourne Cup or AFL and NRL finals – would significantly undermine this important service,” he said.

“We look forward to continuing to work with the government in good faith on a range of safer gambling measures so that Australians can continue to gamble safely in a regulated, onshore market.”

Financial Counselling Australia director Lauren Levin said state and territory governments should draw on the model of BetStop for other gambling methods.

“We call on the state premiers to make BetStop a national register for all forms of gambling, including casinos, pokies and lotteries. It’s not rocket science to simply give people the protection that they are asking for,” she said.

“BetStop is just one piece of the consumer-protection puzzle. We’re a long way from being able to say ‘the job is done’.”


Andrew Brown
(Australian Associated Press)


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