Over the last few years, the Australian government has been working to create the country’s first self-exclusion registry for online and mobile gambling. This initiative has gathered steam over time and a recent acceleration in the plans make it seem likely that the responsible gambling service will be launched in 2022.
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) recently announced that Engine Australia has been contracted to develop and manage the self-exclusion registry.
The Australian service will bear many similarities to GamStop, the UK’s version which was introduced in 2018. This comes as no surprise because Engine Australia was also its creator.
A single process will allow potential punters to self-exclude from all licensed online gambling providers. They can determine the length of their exclusion, with options ranging from three months to a lifetime.
Individuals on the list will be excluded from direct provider advertising for as long as they are on the list. This is geared at bolstering the self-exclusion and reducing the potential that problem gamblers may relapse.
Nerida O’Loughlin spoke on behalf of the ACMA, stating that the involvement of Engine indicates “a major step forward.”
“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. 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 safeguard,” she said.
A cloaked player
Engine Australia, despite assuming such public roles, is shrouded in mystery, revealing little about the exact nature of its business.
What scant information there is out there does little to dispel its enigmatic image. The business has been running since 2005 and, according to its website, “Engine is a media and marketing services company that exists to futureproof clients’ business.”
The firm is headquartered in New York and operates out of 17 offices across the UK, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and North America. With a staff complement of over 1,200 specialists, Engine has provided its services to major organisations including Coca-Cola, Domino’s, AstraZeneca, and the National Trust.
The company boasts a crowded trophy case, filled with illustrious awards, including ones from Creative Review, the UK Content Awards, Cannes Lions, and the Campaign Big Awards.
The website states, “Engine is an ecosystem of creative wunderkinds, uber-nerds, business consultants, cultural mavens, and channel specialists working together to help our clients grow.”
Despite its inscrutable existence, the company’s GamStop creation has received almost unanimous praise.
Long time coming
With the history of the country’s problem gambling considered, a self-exclusion register appears to be a long-overdue measure. Australians display worryingly high levels of gambling engagement with 80% of residents confessing to taking part in some form of gambling in a recent poll. This places the nation at number one globally.
The average annual gambling spend for an Aussie punter comes in at a hefty $1300. This median conceals the much higher averages that are found among the 300,000 problem gamblers in the country.
On Engine UK’s website, the company openly displays its achievements, saying, “We helped 100,000 addicts break their gambling addiction.”
Now that this initiative has been set fully in motion, Australians will soon find themselves in a better position to rescue themselves from devastating compulsion and addiction.