The most recent addition to the roster of Responsible Gambling services, introduced in July 2023 in Australia, is BetStop. This official facility provided by the government is available to all Australian citizens, boasting a swift signup process that takes just a few minutes. Let’s consider the mechanics of this service, its components, and implications for the future of the iGaming industry below.
The Notion of BetStop
BetStop is the name of the official National Self-Exclusion Register in Australia. It is an initiative the Australian government (ACMA) provides to allow gamblers to block themselves from online and phone gambling providers. The point is that it is only valid for Australian licensed gambling operations. This system does not affect international (offshore) casinos and betting sites. You can think of it like a digital database: when you sign up, online and land-based bookmakers cannot provide you with services. So, you become “excluded” from gambling. The essentials are the following:
- You can eliminate yourself for at least 3 months; this is the minimum period. There is no upper limit on the exclusion period; it can be as long as you wish.
- Once you register, you cannot open a new account with licensed operators. If you already have such an account, it is cancelled immediately. It does not become active automatically at the end of the exclusion period. If you want to gamble afterwards, you should create a new account.
- Registering with BetStop also prevents you from receiving gambling marketing messages.
This service is also accessible in other countries that have legalised gambling. For example, it is offered under the name “Spelpaus” in Sweden and “GamStop” in the United Kingdom. Technically, BetStop is no different from these, but as we will mention below, its coverage is quite limited due to local laws and regulations.
How to Register to BetStop
Registration can be done online via the official BetStop site. A third party can’t do this, so you cannot register a family member on your behalf.
To sign up, you need:
- A mobile phone capable of receiving SMS (it does not have to be a smartphone)
- An active email address
- A document to verify your identity (Medicare Card or driving licence)
You can complete the registration process in approximately 5 minutes. You are asked to choose a support team of up to five people. These individuals are expected to provide moral support to you during the exclusion period. They will also receive an informative message stating they have been “nominated”. Acceptance is optional, but they become a “buddy” if they do. This concept bears similarities to the sponsors in Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) programs. For instance, if a gambler is about to violate the exclusion, they can contact a buddy for moral support. We should point out that such a role does not involve any legal responsibility.
For registration, seeking support, or posing inquiries, you can also contact the BetStop service at the following number: 1800 238 786. They are available from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m., Monday to Friday.
Cancelling BetStop Self-Exclusion Request
When registering with BetStop, you will be prompted to choose the exclusion period (minimum 3 months). Note that you cannot cancel it before this concludes. At the end of this timeframe, you are not automatically allowed to continue online gambling again. Instead, you are required to submit a statutory declaration to BetStop. It serves as an acknowledgement that you have consulted a counsellor or a general practitioner regarding your decision.
If your request is accepted, your name will be deleted from the national database within 7 days. You can continue online gameplay by opening a fresh account.
It is noteworthy that almost all Australian states had their self-exclusion services. For example, the Capital Territory and New South Wales have long operated their programs. However, these were only valid within their borders. BetStop is a federal service covering all Australian territories. Even if you are registered with a state’s local program, you need to register with BetStop separately.
The Effect of BetStop on the iGaming Industry
BetStop is a helpful service and should be available in every country that supports gambling. However, the limits of legal gambling determine how advantageous such services will be. For example, in the United Kingdom, which offers the GamStop program, online casinos are legal, and many sites are licensed by the UK Gambling Commission. When you sign up for GamStop, you can exclude yourself from both casinos and bookmakers.
However, in the Land Down Under, the legal landscape for online gambling is more limited, primarily focused on sports betting, including horse racing, and lacking live betting services. This restricted range of legal gambling options means that the potential benefits of the BetStop program are constrained.
Indeed, if online gambling were overseen here, the option could potentially have a more substantial impact and offer a broader range of protections to gamblers. The effectiveness of such a program ultimately depends on the balance between regulation and consumer protection within a given country’s gambling laws.