Australia’s response to its problem gambling epidemic, BetStop, is already demonstrating success by securing over 10,000 sign-ups since its launch in August. This ambitious self-exclusion platform has emerged as a transformative force, offering a safe haven for players who may be grappling with problem gambling behaviors.
Unfortunately in recent times, Australia’s gambling problem has been on the rise. Thus, the need to keep track of the nation’s gambling habits has never been so essential. Irrespective of whether gamblers are playing online slots or table games like blackjack – Australians’ second favourite casino game, promoting moderation and responsible gambling is key.
The legislation proposing the establishment of a national register was put forward by Paul Fletcher, the former Communications Minister, in 2018. However, it failed to materialize. Now, nearly five years later, Australians have the option to opt out of licensed interactive betting services for a duration ranging from a minimum of three months up to a lifetime, all through a single app. This free service will mandate operators to close all participants’ betting accounts, preventing them from opening new accounts, placing bets, or receiving any marketing
Wagering service providers must actively promote BetStop on their websites, apps, and in all marketing materials, ensuring that players, whether facing challenges or not, are aware that self-exclusion is an available option. Additionally, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is closely monitoring industry compliance to ensure that operators adhere to the established rules.
In conjunction with the introduction of the self-exclusion platform, the government has also implemented mandatory pre-verification for gambling operators. This means that before opening a new account and engaging in betting activities, customers will need to provide the relevant documentation to prove they are who they say they are. This step aims to provide increased protection for underage Australians and individuals who have opted for self-exclusion from such activities through BetStop.
Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth expressed satisfaction with the program’s recent success. She commended the positive impact BetStop has already made and stressed the significance of heightened awareness for responsible gambling in aiding Australians to address issues related to gambling.
Younger Demographics At Risk
According to a press release from the Ministers for the Department of Social Services, a significant number of resignations came from individuals below the age of 40, highlighting the growing concern about the adverse effects of online gambling on younger demographics. Gambling Help Online revealed that during the 2022-2023 financial year, there was an increase in the number of individuals aged 24 and under contacting the help service.
Furthermore, in Victoria, individuals aged between 15 and 24 accounted for 600 out of around 2,136 requests for help, representing only a fraction of the young people being adversely affected, according to public health experts. Additionally, a joint study between Federation University and the coroner’s court of Victoria revealed that between 2009-2016, 184 of the recorded 4,788 suicide deaths in the state were gambling-related, with fourteen of those involving individuals aged between 17-24 years old.
Growing Demand For Change
The rise in online gambling engagement, driven by the ease of access to mobile devices, has doubled in under ten years, reaching about 3.5 million Australian adults. Moreover, about one million of these individuals are at risk or currently experiencing varying degrees of problem gambling. Consequently, there is a growing demand for the government to recognize the impact of gambling harm on many individuals, often resulting in the loss of jobs, family, and friends.
Currently, BetStop represents just one facet of the broader changes the government is implementing as it continues to allocate resources to promote responsible gambling. In line with its dedication to reducing harm, the government has recently enacted laws that forbid the use of credit cards for online wagering. This comprehensive approach signifies a collective effort to address the complex challenges posed by online gambling. It also underscores the government’s dedication, under specific circumstances, to monitor consumer spending habits.