Norfolk Island has been stripped of its power to approve gaming licenses as well as renew existing ones by the Australian federal government. The decision comes shortly after it was discovered that an action by the authority allowed the world’s largest illegal bookmaker to enter the multi—billion dollar racing market in the country.

The island’s authority has been revoked by Paul Fletcher, the Minister for Territories in Australia, whereas the NIGA was highly criticised by Peter McGauranm, the chief of Racing Australia too. Licences granted before this direction was announced will not be affected. In the meantime, NIGA will be stripped of its licensing power and will have to stand down until a three-month audit of its procedures, protocols and previous decisions is completed.

According to the information provided to the public, Norfolk Island gave the green light for betting exchange BetHQ to enter the market in March, 2015. This led to opening Australia’s racing industry to Citibet, a large illegal betting operator. Even though the link between the two entities was discovered last month, many believe the Authority should’ve been more thorough while doing background checks.

Earlier this week McGauran commented that the NIGA failed to make “the most rudimentary probity and background checks” on the company. He pointed out that the authority “only had to Google Citibet” in order to find their reported links to BetHQ and understand Racing Australia’s concerns about their presence in the country’s racing market.

McGauran also mentioned that the minister’s action was an appropriate response for repairing the “reputational damage to Australian racing.” He also announced the submission of an inquiry for the government to permanently disband NIGA since the authority proved incapable of properly assessing applicants.

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