BetStop, a voluntary self-exclusion service for those struggling with online or telephone gambling, has launched today after years of advocacy.
Previously, those wishing to self-exclude from such wagering services would have to do so through each site individually.
BetStop is run on behalf of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) and allows users to self-exclude from 150 online wagering providers with the click of a button.
Once registered, wagering providers will be required to close all that person’s betting accounts, ACMA said.
Providers will not be allowed to create a new account or accept a bet from people who have self-excluded and will also be prevented from marketing to people who have registered.
“We started advocating for this in 2015 and didn’t give up, because we always knew that an online gambling self-exclusion register would help a lot of people,” said Lauren Levin, Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) director of policy and campaigns.
“BetStop took eight years and we are way behind other countries in providing the basic consumer protection of being able to choose to exclude yourself from gambling.”
Those turning to BetStop for relief from online or telephone gambling services can register to be excluded for anywhere between three months and indefinitely.
As per the latest Australian Gambling Statistics report, Aussies gambled more than $174 billion in 2019-20 – 25% more than the $225 billion gambled the previous year, which represented $11,525 per capita.
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Of 1,765 Australian adults surveyed by the Australian Gambling Research Centre in July 2022, 73% had gambled at least once over the prior 12 months.
Meanwhile, 46% were classified as being at risk of gambling harm, such as financial impacts and impacts on relationships, health, and wellbeing.
“The implementation of BetStop means that all 10 of the National Consumer Protection Framework measures are now up and running, giving customers the power to stay in control of their own gambling behaviour,” said Kai Cantwell, CEO of Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA).
Mr Cantwell said RWA members worked with the ACMA to ensure Australians receive the highest level of consumer protection, but notes that system failures – particularly during peak periods – could undermine the service.
“BetStop is just one piece of the consumer-protection puzzle, we’re a long way from being able to say ‘the job is done’,” Ms Levin said.
“Now we call on the state premiers to make BetStop a national register for all forms of gambling, including casinos, pokies, and lotteries."
Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth acknowledged reducing harm from online gambling isn't a "set and forget exercise".
“I look forward to working with my state and territory counterparts on what comes next to continue this positive change," she said.
Ms Levin also assured those interested in the service they don’t need to be in dire straits to do so.
“If you’re simply gambling more than feels good the next day, we’d encourage you to register with BetStop,” she said.
“Stop for a few months – it doesn’t have to be forever if that feels too much.
“This will free up money to spend on living expenses, to pay off debts and put some money into savings.”
The launch of BetStop comes after legislation banning the use of credit cards for online gambling was proposed earlier this year.
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