10 Nov

Norfolk Island’s Australia Online Gambling Licencing Authority Closed

In Australia online gambling is perfectly legal. There are operators based within the country who must obtain a regulatory license, as well as international operators who don’t need a territorial licence to accept Australians, so long as they conduct their themselves in an upright manner.

Norfolk Island Australia Online Gambling Licencing Agency Closed

For nearly two decades now, the Australian territory of Norfolk Island has been providing licenses to online gambling operators who seek access to Australian customers. Established in 1998, the Norfolk Island Gambling Authority (NIGA) was, for many years, thought to be a responsible licencer. Obviously, that’s not the case.

Earlier this week, the territory’s government officially shut down the NIGA following a scathing report conducted by Centium. The study was commission by federal officials after concerns were raised earlier this year that the Australia online gambling authority had failed to uphold its role as a responsible regulator.

NIGA Deemed Unfit Licencing Authority

Centium investigated the practices of NIGA for a full two months before issuing its report, in which the licencing authority was deemed “barely viable”. It’s internal controls were found wholly unsuitable, and designed is such a way as to “give rise to fraud and corruption.”

The report detailed a multitude of high-risk problems within the authority’s practices.

“Basic control elements are not in place, such as: governance and reporting structures, a risk register, contracts with key personnel, segregation of duties, controls to prevent conflicts of interest, staff remuneration processes and policies and procedures,” read the report.

“The authority and the former administration have been more concerned about raising revenue from gaming licences than having due regard to its regulatory functions,” the report continued.

The official recommendation from Centium was that NIGA,”not continue to operate in its current form.”

Temporary Suspension Becomes Permanent

The Australia online gambling licencing agency had already had its power temporarily revoked in April 2016 when it was discovered that NIGA had approved a licence for BetHQ, operator of CitiBet, which is considered one of the largest illegal betting operations in the world.

The NIGA’s temporary revocation of power was subject to the result of Centium’s report. Based on the findings, released Saturday, that temporary status has been upgraded to permanent.

“Gambling in Australia must be carefully regulated to ensure the integrity of our sport and to protect consumers,” said Fiona Nash, Australia’s Federal Minister for Local Government and Territories.

Nash stated that, before coming to the conclusion that NIGA must be closed down for good, she consulted the assessor on the appropriate course of action.

“I asked Centium to undertake a further assessment to determine whether it would be possible to rectify the myriad of issues identified in the first report,” she explained.

“Centium’s report made it abundantly clear that the authority is beyond redemption and that these problems cannot be resolved satisfactorily. As a result, I am entirely confident that closing the authority is the right thing to do,” Nash said.

Nash said the federal government will be responsible for providing the “small shortfall” in revenue expected to befall Norfolk Island following NIGA’s closure. All betting agencies who held an Australia online gambling licence through the authority have been given until Mach 2017 to obtain new licences from another, reputable jurisdiction.