MP to push gambling credit card ban in parliament

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Credit card gambling ban meets opposition from industry group

A ban on the use of credit cards for gambling in Australia is gaining momentum, with a Queensland MP saying he’s secured “furious agreement” from some of the country’s biggest lenders.

The ABC reports that Australia credit cards are already banned from being used to gamble in casinos and gaming lounges and cash advances from nearby ATMs are not allowed, but no such rules apply for online gambling.

Sunshine Coast MP Andrew Wallace began his push for a change in February, saying the high rate of interest and high chance of loss were a recipe for disaster for many families.

“The banks would be very happy for the government to legislate,” he said.

“I’m getting some advice on what that legislative change might look like and I’ll be taking that to my colleagues over the next couple of weeks.”

Mr Wallace had proposed the banking industry create a voluntary code of conduct.

While some lenders, including Suncorp and Macquarie Bank, had already stepped in to stop gambling on credit cards, the LNP member for Fisher said the biggest banks claimed their hands were tied.

“Many of the banks and the Australian Banking Association were basically saying to me it’s actually very difficult for them to be able to implement these changes, which is why they say they haven’t done it,” Mr Wallace said.

“So the question is not one of will or desire. The question is how we go about it.”

Mr Wallace said he met with representatives of Westpac, ANZ, NAB and Commonwealth Bank, along with the ABA, and all had agreed on the need for action.

“We’re all in furious agreement that the banks should not be allowing their customers to use credit cards to gamble on the internet,” he said.

“They see this as an issue from a social justice perspective.

“People shouldn’t be in a situation where they can borrow money from the banks at 22 per cent interest and gamble with it.”

Lobby group warns against credit card ban 

The ABC contacted the big four banks but only ANZ put its support for a change on the record.

“We would support a legislative response akin to the UK, where gambling companies are prevented from accepting payment by credit,” the ANZ said.

The other three banks stressed that they could block cards from being used for gambling upon request and said they would continue to work with the government and others on any changes.

The ABA said it would keep working with MPs on possible legal changes.

Mr Wallace said he and Responsible Wagering Australia, the body representing the likes of Sportsbet, Bet365, Ladbokes, Neds and others, had “agreed to disagree on almost everything”.

Responsible Wagering Australia chief executive Brent Jackson said the lobby group did not support changes that would restrict the use of credit cards to gamble online.

“The only opposition we’ve seen to people using their credit card for online betting or to buy scratchies at their local newsagent, is from people who have a moral opposition to gambling,” he said.

He added that the level of regulation of online gambling made it safer than other forms of gambling.

“Taking away a customer’s ability to make their own payment decisions isn’t backed by any evidence,” Mr Jackson said.

Mr Wallace said he was prepared to fight online betting companies over the issue.

“I’m sure they will, as any group that stands to lose money, lobby parliamentarians to try and defeat that,” he said.

“At the end of the day, eight out of 10 Australians are on my side and it’s a no-brainer.”

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