Australia’s government plans to permanently dismantle the Norfolk Island Gaming Authority (NIGA) because a review found the online betting regulator was “beyond redemption.”
In April, Australia’s Minister for Territories Paul Fletcher forbid NIGA from issuing any more online gambling licenses without his ministry’s approval. Fletcher also tasked auditing firm Centium with conducting a review of NIGA’s operations.
Fletcher was prompted to act after NIGA issued a license to BetHQ, which held a white label deal with controversial Asian betting exchange CITIbet. The Philippines-licensed CITIbet has been slammed by Australian horseracing industry stakeholders and local bookmakers for handling wagers on Aussie racing without kicking back any portion of its revenue to racing.
On Friday, new Territories Minister Fiona Nash said Centium’s report “made it abundantly clear that [NIGA] is beyond redemption and that these problems cannot be resolved satisfactorily.” Nash said the findings made her “entirely confident that closing the authority is the right thing to do.”
The report slammed NIGA as a “barely viable” entity that had been effectively “captured” by the online betting industry. NIGA was found to be more concerned with raising revenue than performing regulatory functions, leaving it highly vulnerable to fraud and corruption.
The report said the three-member NIGA was cripplingly under-resourced, lacked basic controls like reporting structures, and had failed to conduct sufficient investigation of license applicants, relying instead on licensees to conduct their own compliance checks.
The report drips disdain by noting that NIGA won a best “professional services partner” designation at the 2016 eGR Australia Awards dinner, leading Centium to observe that a licensing body “should not be viewed as a partner; its role is that of a regulator.”
NIGA licensees have been given until March 31, 2017 to secure a license from another Australian jurisdiction. Former NIGA licensee Ladbrokes Australia has already made the switch, announcing a deal with the Northern Territory Racing Commission in September. But the likes of BetHQ will reportedly find it impossible to hold any future Australian license.