Australia Shuts Down Norfolk Island Gaming Association

Posted on: November 8, 2016, 05:00h. 

Last updated on: November 8, 2016, 05:45h.

Australian minister Fiona Nash shuts down Norfolk Island Gaming Authority
Fiona Nash, Minister for Local Government and Territories said that NIGA’s failures were beyond redemption. (Image: Andrew Meares)

The Australian government is set to close down the Norfolk Island Gaming Association (NIGA) on the recommendations of a report that concluded its framework was “largely ineffective” and its authority as a regulator “barely viable.”

The Pacific island is an Australian territory and an Australian racing jurisdiction, which, until recently, licensed respectable foreign companies such as Ladbrokes to operate in Australia.

But in April its permission to grant licenses was suspended by the Australian government after it was revealed that the jurisdiction had sanctioned a company called BetHQ to take Australian bets.

BetHQ, it emerged, had a white label arrangement with the Philippine’s CitiBet, the largest unlicensed betting exchange in the world.

Fraud and Corruption

The revelation prompted the inquiry into the jurisdiction’s practices and the resulting report, published on Saturday, was damning.

It found failures in transparency, a disregard for risks or appropriate regulation, and serious concerns over conflicts of interest in appointments.

NIGA had “failed to fulfill its regulatory role to an acceptable level” and had internal controls that could “give rise to fraud and corruption,” it said.

“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,” it added.

It also found the director of NIGA, Ian Hall, had not formally disclosed that he was the brother-in-law of the former Norfolk Island chief minister and minister for tourism, industry and development.

Beyond Redemption

“The authority and the former administration have been more concerned about raising revenue from gaming licenses than having due regard to its regulatory functions,” the report said. “We recommend that it not continue to operate in its current form.”

The federal minister for local government and territories, Fiona Nash, said that, before she arrived at the decision to shut the authority down, she asked the assessor and author of the report, Centium, whether it would be possible to rectify the litany of problems surrounding NIGA.

“Gambling in Australia must be carefully regulated to ensure the integrity of our sport and to protect consumers,” Nash said. “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.”