Australia enlists Engine to develop country’s first national exclusion service

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has enlisted Engine, developer of the UK’s GAMSTOP exclusion service, to launch Australia’s first nationwide gambling blocking system.

Engine Australia will develop the National Self-Exclusion Register for the ACMA, allowing customers to leverage a single process to self-exclude from all licensed interactive betting operators.

Self-exclusion can range from anywhere between three months to a permanent ban, and will cover both licensed online and telephone betting operators offering wagering on horse racing and sports, whilst gambling firms will also be prohibited from directly advertising and promoting any products or services to a self-excluded person.

In the UK, Engine has worked with GAMSTOP to successfully self-exclude nearly 200,000 people suffering from problem gambling as of April 2021, with a single-day record of 326 sign-ups recorded on 22 February.

Welcoming the development, Nerida O’Loughlin, Chair of the ACMA, remarked: “The register will make a difference for people who want help changing their gambling habits and will complement existing consumer protection measures.

“If you choose to self-exclude, this register will ensure your account is closed, your money returned, and no further advertising or promotion activity will be directed your way.

“Engine is well-placed to deliver this protection having designed and developed GAMSTOP, the United Kingdom’s self-exclusion register.”

Following approval of the project by the ACMA, Engine will commence with the initial design and development of the solution. It plans to begin trialing of the system later this year, anticipating a full launch before mid-2022.

Meanwhile, the Australian regulatory body is due to enter into ‘extensive consultations’ with relevant industry stakeholders.

“Through our consultation we will engage with the interactive wagering industry on the design of the system and the rules around the operation of the register,” O’Loughlin added.

“We will also work with consumers and advocacy groups to ensure that the register meets the needs of users, including putting in place robust privacy safeguards.”

Existing self-exclusion provisions in Australia include the Northern Territory Racing Commission’s service, which covers many of the operators in Australia, whilst bettors can also contact individual companies to ban themselves.

The announcement of Engine’s new self-exclusion tool comes as the Australian market comes under scrutiny from some elements of the public, with Suicide Prevention Australia recently arguing that ‘stricter regulation of the gambling sector is required across all Australian states’, in response to a Federal Govenrment’s review of the online sector.

Meanwhile, the ACMA has continued its active campaign against illegal betting operators, blocking 10 unlicensed offshore websites in March under the terms of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.

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