government of Australia has clamped down on Norfolk Island to approve
wagering licenses after the island’s gaming authority allowed an online betting
exchange, which has links to some controversial operators, to operate in the
On Thursday, Minister for Territories Paul Fletcher stripped
the Norfolk Island Gaming Authority (NIGA) of its authority to award gambling
licenses, news.com.au reported. As part of the federal government’s
directive, the authority can no longer make any decisions on license approvals,
transfers and variations “without ministerial approval.”
In addition, Fletcher also ruled “the authority must not
destroy or dispose of any item of correspondence or other document, electronic
or otherwise, that is held by the authority…at or after the commencement of
this direction,” The Australian reported.
Licenses that were approved before the Australian
government’s order came out will not be affected, according to the report.
The island is a self-governing territory of Australia, but
the NIGA, under the Norfolk Island legislation, has the power to grant wagering
licenses and other categories of gambling licenses.
Last year, NIGA licensed BetHQ to bet on Australian racing,
which the local gaming industry believed opened the country to CITIbet. The Philippine-licensed
CITIbet is controversial because its punter has the ability to wager on a horse
to finish out of the money, which critics claim makes it a prime vehicle for
According to The Australian, NIGA knows BetHQ had
a “white label” arrangement with CITIbet, which also offers bets on
racing—including in-running—spread betting on foreign exchange price movements,
stock indices price movements and commodities price movements.
Members of the racing industry, who reacted angrily after
discovering the link between BetHQ and CITIbet, met with the minister and argued
that Norfolk Island’s decision placed the racing “sport at risk and hurt the
industry’s reputation.” Both Racing NSW and Racing Victoria
previously revoked BetHQ’s permit to operate in their race fields.