Aussie credit card gambling ban reaches Parliament

by Charlotte Lee Last Updated
Aussie credit card gambling ban reaches Parliament

The ban on credit cards for online gambling has reached the Australian Parliament. reports that Australian senators heard impassioned pleas from financial counsellors and gambling reform groups, urging them to ban the use of credit cards for online betting.

The use of credit cards for online wagering platforms could be banned if the proposed Interactive Gambling Amendment (Prohibition on Credit Card Use) Bill 2020 passes.

A Senate committee heard submissions as it prepared to hand down its recommendations.

Under the Bill, it’s suggested Australia follow the United Kingdom, which banned credit cards for all forms of remote wagering in 2020.

Proponents of the Bill say the ban would ensure problem gamblers didn’t use money they didn’t have and push themselves into debt.

Overwhelmingly, stakeholders who fronted the committee supported the ban.

Dr Mark Zirnsak from the Alliance for Gambling Reform told the committee that passing the bill would be a “significant step forward” in addressing gambling harm.

“The legislation is absolutely necessary,” he said.

Lauren Levine from Financial Counselling Australia said she and other financial counsellors saw first-hand the significant harm credit cards could have on those with gambling problems, particularly in the COVID-19 context.

“We know a lot of people are struggling in COVID, but other countries have done things with gambling in COVID,” Ms Levine said.

“Spain banned gambling advertising during lockdown, Sweden introduced a national gambling ID where people can only spend a set amount over all forms, and the UK regulator introduced guidance for wagering operators.

“We’ve done…absolutely nothing, and gambling has increased.”

Andrew Whitecross from the Australian Institute of Family Studies said the Bill was not proposing people stop engaging in “gambling activities”, but it would stop gamblers’ ability to act impulsively and to chase losses.

“In that sense, it’s trying to provide some friction in people’s gambling behaviour,” he said.

“It would benefit some people and could reduce their propensity to engage in risky behaviours without stopping them from engaging in gambling if they want…just one more planned way.”

There were also concerns about e-wallets, including PayPal, which can be filled using credit cards.

The committee will make its report on October 8.

Attenborough weighs in on credit card gambling ban

Australia’s biggest bookmaker is arguing that any gambling blocks implemented to wagering websites should be managed by banks.

Tabcorp CEO David Attenborough said the bookmaker has supported calls for a ban on credit card use on Australian online gambling platforms, but believes the mandate should be the responsibility of banks, not gambling providers.

Appearing before a joint committee as part of its inquiry into the regulation of the use of financial services, such as credit cards and digital wallets for online gambling in Australia, Attenborough said while his organisation would not oppose a ban on credit cards for online wagering, it would oppose a ban for online lotteries.

“I’m not sitting here saying I accept a ban on credit cards for gambling. I’m saying if the committee decides it’s going to ban it, we’re not going to oppose it for online wagering,” he told the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services.

Credit card gambling transactions on the slide

Attenborough said only 14 per cent of transactions through online wagering use a credit card.

People already cannot use a credit card in a retail environment, that is a pub, club or race track.

He said a large chunk of those using credit cards gamble responsibly and use it for convenience, but conceded there is a proportion that is much higher risk and said his organisation recognised this and “wraps a whole bunch of controls around it”.

“I don’t think people should gamble with debt,” he said, citing again the reason for not contesting the ban on credit card use.

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