Australia’s ban on gambling using credit cards and cryptocurrency will come into force next year after lawmakers voted on Wednesday in favour of the proposal.
The amendment to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 will bring online wagering into line with land-based gambling regulations and bans the use of credit cards, credit-related products and digital currency for gambling.
The ban will come into force after a six-month transition period, with companies that fail to comply with the ban liable to fines of up to AU$234,750.
“The Albanese Government is committed to ensuring that gambling takes place within a robust legislative framework with strong consumer protections, and this ban is helping us to achieve just that,” said Michelle Rowland, Australia’s minister for communications.
“The principle here is simple: Australians should not be gambling with money they do not have. This legislation delivers on the commitment we made in April this year to ban the use of credit cards for online wagering.”
Wednesday’s parliamentary approval was welcomed by the Australian Banking Association (ABA) as an important step in helping consumers break the cycle of debt.
“These new laws will overturn the absurd reality of someone not being able to use a credit card at the betting counter at a TAB outlet or pub – but still being able to sit at the same outlet and gamble on a betting app using a credit card,” said ABA chief executive Anna Bligh.
“Using a credit card for gambling can lead very quickly to a very serious debt trap for consumers and this debt cycle can be extremely difficult to break. Online gambling is a fast-growing form of gambling so it’s imperative that this loophole is finally being closed. The Federal Government is to be strongly congratulated for acting on this important issue.”
Australia’s Alliance for Gambling Reform was less supportive of the government’s actions, which it said had been watered-down due to lobbying by gambling interests.
“We are deeply disappointed with the loopholes that exist in the Governments’ bill to ban gambling on credit. Its approach, supported by the Opposition, still allows too many options for people to gamble when they cannot afford it,” said Carol Bennett, CEO of the Alliance for Gambling Reform.
“The legislation already – wrongly – exempts lotteries including games like Keno from the credit ban, allowing people to lose thousands of dollars every hour and stops the government from intervening when buy now pay later schemes exploit loopholes in the legislation.
“This watered down legislation just shows how the powerful gambling industry is clearly able to influence the two major political parties in Australia today.”
Australia’s minister for social services Amanda Rishworth commented: “All measures under the National Consumer Protection Framework are now in place as a result of the focused action our Government has taken. Since being elected, we have mandated customer pre-verification to complement BetStop, monthly activity statements, compulsory staff training and new evidence-based taglines that replace ‘gamble responsibly’ with stronger messages about gambling harms.
“But reducing harm from online gambling is not a set and forget exercise. I am proud of the steps we have taken so far and our Government, along with states and territories, will keep working to create a safer environment for Australians at risk of gambling harm.”