Engine to develop Australia’s first national self-exclusion service

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has enlisted the help of Engine to develop Australia’s first nationwide self-exclusion service.

Engine is the developer behind the UK’s GAMSTOP self-exclusion system.

ACMA teams up with Engine

According to the ACMA’s announcement, Engine has been appointed to develop and operate the National Self-Exclusion Register. Once rolled out, the Register will allow people to self-exclude from all licensed interactive wagering service providers in a single process.

Consumers will be able to self-exclude for anywhere between three months to permanently and will cover licensed online and telephone betting services such as those offering betting on horse racing and sports.

Gambling operators and providers will also be prohibited from directly advertising and promoting their products to anyone who has self-excluded.

ACMA Chair Nerida O’Loughlin welcomed Engine’s appointment and said this is a significant step toward a critical consumer safeguard.

O’Loughlin said: “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.”

In the UK, Engine has worked with Gamstop to help approximately 200,000 people self-exclude from gambling as of April 2021. On 22 February, Gamstop recorded its highest day of sign-ups with 326 people self-excluding on the day.

When will the register roll out?

The project will now move into its next phase of development and O’Loughlin said the ACMA will begin “extensive” consultations with stakeholders.

O’Loughlin said: “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.”

Once the project has been approved, Engine will begin with the initial design and development of the system. Trialling of the service is expected to commence later this year ahead of an anticipated launch before mid-2022.

While the register is being implemented, people can contact individual wagering providers to self-exclude from their services or register with other existing programs, such as that offered by the Northern Territory Racing Commission, which covers many of the large corporate bookmakers in Australia.

The announcement of the new exclusion service comes as the Australian gambling comes under scrutiny from other parties. Suicide Precentuion Australia recently argued that “stricter regulation of the gambling sector is required across all Australian states,” in response the government’s review of the online gambling space.

In March, the ACMA continued its campaign against illegal gambling operators with the blocking of 10 unlicensed, offshore gambling sites under the 2001 Interactive Gambling Act.