ACMA Hires GAMSTOP Creator Engine

Engine, the creator of the UK’s GAMSTOP exclusion service, has been hired by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to build Australia’s first countrywide gambling blocking system.

Engine Australia will create the National Self-Exclusion Register for the ACMA, allowing customers to self-exclude from all registered interactive betting companies through a single process.

Self-exclusion will encompass both legal online and telephone betting providers offering wagering on horse racing and sports, and gambling companies will be barred from directly advertising and promoting any products or services to a self-excluded person for a period of three months to a year.

Engine has successfully self-excluded approximately 200,000 persons suffering from problem gambling in the UK with GAMSTOP as of April 2021, with a single-day record of 326 sign-ups established on February 22.

Delivering protection

The ACMA’s Chair, Nerida O’Loughlin, expressed her delight at the development, saying: “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.”

Engine will begin the first design and development of the solution after the ACMA has approved the project. It plans to start testing the system later this year, with a complete launch scheduled for mid-2022.

“Extensive consultations”

Meanwhile, the Australian regulatory agency will have “extensive consultations” with key sector participants.

“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.”

In Australia, the Northern Territory Racing Commission offers a self-exclusion service that covers many of the country’s operators, and bettors can also contact individual companies to request a ban.

Engine’s new self-exclusion tool is being announced at a time when the Australian market is being scrutinised by some members 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 Government review of the online sector.

In the meantime, the ACMA has continued its strong campaign against illegal betting providers, shutting ten unlawful offshore websites in March under the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.