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NEWS 7 November 2016

Australia to shut down Norfolk Island Gaming Authority amid corruption fears

By Tom Lewis
The Norfolk Island Gaming Authority (NIGA) is to be shut down by the Australian Government, after a report found it to be “barely viable” and failing to adequately meet its responsibilities as a regulator.

The report, carried out over two months by audit firm Centium Group under the instruction of Australian Minister for Territories Paul Fletcher, found the regulator to be “beyond redemption”, with concerns including transparency, oversight and conflicts of interest.

The report reads: “The authority and the former administration have been more concerned about raising revenue from gaming licences than having due regard to its regulatory functions.

“We recommend that it not continue to operate in its current form.”

NIGA, based on the tiny islet of Norfolk Island in the Pacific Ocean, was stripped of its power to grant gambling licences to international operators in April, after concerns were raised over its 2015 licensing of BetHQ, an operator with reported links to controversial online betting exchange CITIbet.

Also highlighted as an issue in the report was the conflict of interest arising from the NIGA Director being the brother-in-law of the island’s former Chief Minister and Minister for Tourism, Industry and Development.

The latter’s potential influence on internal audits was underlined as a key indicator of NIGA’s not being fit for purpose, while the fact that this relationship was not declared at any stage proved another nail in NIGA’s coffin.

Senator Fiona Nash confirmed the government’s decision to shut NIGA down.

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

“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.”

Operators licensed by NIGA will have until 31 March to secure licences with other jurisdictions.
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