AUSTRALIAS FEDERAL GOVERNMENT SHUTTERS NORFOLK ISLAND JURISDICTION
 
Action follows BetHQ debacle and Centium independent audit.
 
Australia’s online gambling licensing jurisdiction Norfolk Island has been shuttered by the Australian government citing corruption concerns, according to reports today (Friday) in the Sydney Morning Herald.
 
The Norfolk Island Gaming Authority – popular with on line gambling operators due to its low fees – exposed Australias thoroughbred industry to global ridicule last year when it granted a national license to BetHQ – a betting enterprise closely linked to the worlds biggest illegal bookmaker, Citibet.
 
In that case, Racing Australia branded Norfolk Islands decision to license one of "reckless incompetence".
 
The federal government subsequently suspended the Authority’s permission to offer new licenses and commissioned the independent firm Centium to carry out an audit.
 
Territories Minister Fiona Nash now says the Authority is to disbanded.
 
"Gambling in Australia must be carefully regulated to ensure the integrity of our sport and to protect consumers," Senator Nash told local media.
 
"Centiums 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."
 
Sen. Nash said that operators with Norfolk Island licenses will have a six-month window to seek licensing from other Australian provincial regulators.
 
Centium reported that the Norfolk Island Gaming Authority failed to fulfill its regulatory role effectively and had been "captured" by the online gambling industry. There were problems with transparency and basic integrity controls, and the regulator was highly vulnerable to fraud and corruption, the report found.
 
Auditors reported that the NIGA did not carry out proper analyses of license applications, and was lacking in probity standards. There was also evidence of conflicts of interest, the Centium report claimed.
 
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Norfolk Island was known for its reasonable tax rate on online gambling companies, which is capped at A$300,000 a year.