Sat, Nov 5, 7:53am by Bren O'Brien
The federal government will shut down the Norfolk Island Gaming Authority after a report revealed the regulatory body was ‘barely viable’ and was ripe for corruption.
The decision is set to have an impact on the gambling industry in Australia, with online betting agencies having until March next year to reapply for a licence elsewhere.
A two-month investigation of the NIGA revealed the body to be woefully under-resourced, while it lacked transparency and oversight and there was a disregard for risks or appropriate regulation.
The report also serious concerns over conflicts of interest in appointments.
“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 said.
“We recommend that it not continue to operate in its current form.”
NIGA was already operating under restrictions imposed in April after it was revealed that some of the world’s largest illegal betting operators had managed to apply for licenses under other names.
The issue was highlighted in the Bet HQ case, which saw hundreds of punters left out of pocket after it suddenly ceased operation early this year. Bet HQ had been linked to Philippines-based Citibet.
The federal minister for local government and territories, Fiona Nash, said she would shut down the authority after the final report’s findings.
Nash said the federal government will cover the ‘small shortfall’ in revenue for Norfolk Island, while betting agencies had five months to find alternate licensing agreements in another territory, such as the Northern Territory or the ACT.
“Gambling in Australia must be carefully regulated to ensure the integrity of our sport and to protect consumers,” Nash said.
“Before arriving at this decision, 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.”
“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.”
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