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Australia Bans the Use of Credit Cards and Digital Currency for Online Gambling

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said Australians ‘should not be gambling with money they do not have.’

A new law that bans Australians from using credit cards and digital currency to gamble online has come into force.

Fines of up to $234,750 (US$155,000) also can apply to companies that fail to enforce this ban on credit cards, credit-related products, and digital currencies.

Explaining the reasoning for the legislation, Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said, “Australians should not be gambling with money they do not have.”

The Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023 (pdf) passed the parliament in late 2023 and now applies after the industry were given a six-month period to adapt.

“Credit must not be provided to customers of certain interactive wagering services. Such services must also not accept or offer to accept payment using specified methods, including credit cards and digital currency,” the law states.

The minister said the ban builds on the government’s “significant progress” in the past two years to minimise gambling harm.

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“Last year, the Albanese Labor government committed to banning credit cards for online wagering—and we’ve delivered,” she said.

“Our commitment to ensuring that gambling takes place within a robust legislative framework with strong consumer protections remains steadfast, and we will have more to announce in due course.”

During the parliamentary debate, Shadow Communications Minister David Coleman said the Coalition supported the bill in principle.

“In banning the use of credit cards for online gambling, the bill brings online gambling into line with offline gambling. But, as is often the case with Labor, as we’ve seen in many cases, such as their extraordinary and appalling misinformation bill, they can go too far,” he said in Parliament.

“As policymakers, we have a responsibility to adopt sensible policies that can reduce harm. It’s why the Coalition took positive steps earlier this year with a bill to ban gambling advertising during live sport.”

Mr. Coleman tried to move amendments to the legislation, but these were voted down by the government.

He also noted the very broad stakeholder support for the key provisions of the bill.

Government Could Do More: Dai Le

Independent MP Dai Le offered support for the bill, stating that gambling reform is an issue close to her heart.

“I support the measures taken in this bill to ensure credit cards cannot be used on online gambling platforms, bringing the system in line with the ban on credit cards being used at casinos, gaming lounges and other gambling venues,” she said.

She added, however, that this is just one small piece of the puzzle in tackling gambling harm.

“My beloved late mother … had a gambling problem which impacted our families. It was hard for her to acknowledge, let alone overcome and seek help,” she said during parliamentary debate.

“As she struggled to pay her debt, our family struggled with our own mental health, trying to find ways to extract her from this damaging and addictive behaviour. My mother’s story is just one of the thousands of stories in our diverse electorate of Fowler.”

Overall, she believed government had not gone “far enough” in addressing the harmful effects of problem gambling, but said this measurer was a good place to start.

Ms. Le pointed out in 2021, just after COVID-19, residents in the Fairfield local government area lost $1.7 million a day on poker machines alone.

“In 2021, just after COVID, our residents were losing $527 million in pokies—one of the highest pokies losses across Sydney,” she told Parliament.

Ms. Le also suggested gambling harm needs to be introduced into school curriculums as a mental health and social issue.

“Gambling advertising must also be treated in the same manner as alcohol advertising and must be restricted to young people on social media, where they’re at their most vulnerable as they often are unable to be monitored,” she suggested.

Some Want to See Ban Extended

Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) welcomed the ban on using credit cards for online gambling and would like to see it go further.

“This is an important measure to protect customers, making it easier for people to stay in control of their own gambling behaviour,” CEO Kai Cantwell said.

“It will complement the existing offering of safer gambling account management tools by RWA members.”

He said RWA and its members support the ban being extended to  “all forms of gambling,” including lotteries and keno.

“‘If consumer protection measures aren’t consistent across all forms of gambling it will incentivise vulnerable Australians to move to less-regulated types of gambling, where they are more at risk of harm,” he said.

Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said the government takes its responsibility to prevent and reduce harm from online wagering “seriously.”

“Our ban on credit cards will help with this goal. You can’t use your credit card to place a bet for land-based gambling and now the the same rules apply for online gambling,” Ms. Rishworth said.

“I am proud of the steps we have taken so far to protect vulnerable Australians but recognise there is still much to do—and we will keep working to create a safer environment for Australians at risk of gambling harm.”

The government said it is considering 31 recommendations from the recent House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs inquiry and will make further announcements in the future.

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