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ACMA Chooses Partner for National Self-Exclusion Program

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A major piece of progress has been made by the first national self-exclusion register in Australia for both online and phone gambling. This comes with the appointment of Engine Australia (Engine), which has been selected to deliver the project.

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Self-Exclusion Register Overview

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The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has requested that Engine develop and operate its National Self-Exclusion Register. Through this, people will be able to exclude themselves from all licensed interactive wagering service providers in one single process.

The exclusion scheme has been brought about as another way for the ACMA to protect Australians from the alleged threats of gambling. Other routes it has taken in this direction include blocking gambling sites that do not hold an official Australian gambling license.

Through the exclusion program, gamblers will be able to exclude themselves from anywhere between three months and upwards to a permanent block. The exclusion service will only cover licensed online and telephone betting services though. At the same time, providers will also be prohibited from sending any direct advertisement or promotion to those people who have chosen to self-exclude.

The Appointment of Engine a Significant Step Forward

The chair of the ACMA, Nerida O’Loughlin marked the appointment of Engine as a significant step towards a critical consumer safeguard. Welcoming the self-exclusion scheme to Australia, she 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.

O’Loughlin went on to say that Engine is a “well-placed” company that can deliver the necessary protection, considering it is responsible for the UK’s own exclusion scheme known as GAMSTOP.

Nerida O'LoughlinHead of the ACMA, Nerida O'Loughlin

Now, the project aims to move into its next phase of development with the ACMA. This will see it enter into extensive consultations with stakeholders. Through this, O’Loughlin says that they will “engage with the interactive wagering industry” in order to figure out the design of the system and construct rules surrounding how the register will operate. At the same time, the ACMA aims to work with both consumers and advocacy groups, and this will ensure that the upcoming register meets the needs of all of its users. Robust safety measures should also be included once the consultations have been completed.

It is now in the capable hands of Engine to commence the initial design and development of the exclusion solution. Trials will take place with this later on in 2021, and it is anticipated that it will officially launch somewhere prior to mid-2022 for Australians to take advantage of as they like.

In the meantime, people have the opportunity to contact individual operators to self-exclude from their services. Alternatively, it is possible to register with other existing programs that do the same thing, such as the one provided by the Northern Territory Racing Commission. This software covers many of the large corporate bookmakers currently operating in the country.

ACMA Has Complete Control Over Australian Online Gambling

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As noted, the ACMA is responsible for working with Engine Australia to bring in the countrywide self-exclusion program. However, this is just one of the responsibilities that it has taken upon itself. As well as catering to vulnerable players within its borders, the ACMA has proceeded with anti-gaming web censorship, targeting those operators that are unlicensed and based offshore.

On Wednesday, April 21, 2021, it requested that the internet service providers (ISPs) of the country block specific gambling websites. This isn’t the first time that this route has been taken by the ACMA either, and in total, 263 domains have now been blocked, resulting in Australian gamblers not being able to access them. Should a player attempt to access one of those sites, they will be presented with a “Stop Page” instead.

ACMA Stop PageAn Example of the Page Shown When Australians Try to Access Blocked Web Content

Some companies took the decision to withdraw from the Australian market when the announcement was made on the proposed amendment to the Interactive Gambling Act of 2001, which effectively prohibited offshore poker and casino enterprises. One of the first to remove itself from operating in the country was the 888 brand, which informed all Australian players that their account would be closed by 01/16/2017.

It didn’t take long for others to follow suit, with PokerStars stating at that time that they would withdraw from the Australia market if the bill was officially passed. It then came about that the Chico Poker Network, which consists of, BetOnline and TigerGaming, opted to withdraw from the country as a result of the change in legislation.

In stark contrast is the Ignition Casino, which took the opposite route. Ignition Poker and Ignition Casino began accepting new Australian registrations since July 2017 notwithstanding the law.

Online Poker and Gambling Remains Active in Australia

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Despite the fact that the ACMA has been on a rampage through the country with regard to foreign-based gambling sites, this hasn’t stopped some of them from providing their services to players there. Understandably, the governing body of the country is trying to make things safer for its residents and ensure that Australia does not lose on obtaining tax money from gambling brands. However, if you want to visit a recommended Australian poker site, then we have some recommendations for you. Check out our selection of the best Australia online poker sites for Australian players.

There are multiple brands listed on our selection of recommended sites, and these come with their own specific perks for you to enjoy. Platforms like the aforementioned Ignition Casino remain active in Australia, and this one features a huge roster of players accessing its lobbies. Alternatively, you could try Juicy Stakes, which offers the most rakeback to its registered players. Online casino games can be found readily as well on reliable Australian-friendly brands such as JoeFortune Casino.