ACMA Enlists Engine For National Self-Exclusion Register

ACMA partners with Engine Australia to create the country's first self-exclusion register

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is launching a nation self-exclusion register. ACMA has enlisted Engine Australia to develop the country’s first nationwide gambling blocking system.

Engine is the company that developed the GAMSTOP system in the United Kingdom. GAMSTOP puts gamblers in control by restricting their online gambling activities. The system prevents gamblers from using gambling websites and apps run by companies licensed in Great Britain for a period of their choosing once they sign a register.

The GAMSTOP system has seen more than 200,000 problem gamblers self-exclude since its launch in 1999. People register their details and gambling companies block them within 24 hours of logging their details. The Engine Australia system promises to work similarly.

Signing up for the Engine Australia self-exclusion scheme is entirely free. Gamblers can self-exclude anywhere from three months to permanently. There is no way to alter the self-exclusion period once the person submits their personal details.

Any exclusion covers licenced online and telephone betting services. Furthermore, direct advertising and promotions from operators become prohibited.

AMCA Chair Discusses Engine Australia’s Register

Nerida O’Loughlin is the AMCA Chair. She welcomed the appointment of Engine Australia.

“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.”

The Engine Australia project is moving to the next phase of development. ACMA plans to launch the system before mid-2022.

“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. 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.”

Ms O’Loughlin reiterated problem gamblers can already self-exclude before the new system launches. The Northern Territory Racing Commission offers a self-exclusion service. It covers many of the current Australian operators. In addition, people can contact individual operators themselves and request a self-exclusion period.

Australia’s Long-Running Gambling Problem

Most people enjoy gambling in moderation. They have no issues regardless of them winning or losing. Here we are advocates of playing pokies and casino games responsibly and always playing within your bankroll’s limits.

Unfortunately, there are many Australians who cannot and do not gamble responsibly. The Engine Australia self-exclusion register is aimed squarely at them, the ones who need additional help.

Total gambling turnover from gaming in Australia topped $181.4 billion in 2019 alone. Aussies also spent $11.6 billion betting on sports. A study conducted in 2019 showed a per capita gambling expenditure on electronic gaming machines and interactive gaming weighed in at $1,048. That is $1,048 a year for every single Australian in the country. It is a staggering amount.

Gambling seems to be in Australians’ blood. For example, more than 69% of Victorian adults participated in some form of gambling last year. This year’s figure will be higher as people flocked to online casinos and sports betting sites during the pandemic.

Estimates put the number of problem gamblers in Australia between 125,000 and 250,000 people. An additional 350,000 to 525,000 Aussies are considered moderate-risk gamblers. That is a lot of people struggling with gambling issues.

Problem gambling does not only affect the gambler; problem gambling causes issues for those around them.

The upcoming Engine Australia register coupled with the increased usage of facial recognition software in venues should, in theory, help reduce the number of problem gamblers. That can only be a good thing.