Extending a ban in land-based gaming

Australia to ban credit card use in online gambling, non-compliers to face fines up to $150K

Reading time 1:55 min

The Australian federal government has introduced legislation banning the use of credit cards and digital currencies in online gambling. Companies that fail to enforce the ban could face fines of up to $150,470 (AUD234,750). The move comes as part of a broader effort to protect vulnerable bettors and reduce problem gambling.

The proposed bill, which was introduced to the federal parliament on Wednesday, builds on existing regulations that prohibit the use of credit cards in land-based wagering.

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the legislation would protect vulnerable Australians and their families. “It’s as simple as this: People should not be betting with money they do not have,” she said, as per NCA NewsWire.

Responsible Wagering Australia, the peak gambling industry body in the country, said it supports the ban on credit card bets in online gambling.

The legislation would also grant the minister the authority to prohibit future credit-related products that may emerge, ensuring that the regulations remain relevant in light of technological changes.

Industry and consumers will be given a six-month transition period to adjust their business and betting behaviors in compliance with the new regulations.

This latest move is part of a broader effort to address problem gambling in Australia. The government has introduced various measures, including monthly activity statements that outline wins and losses and the establishment of BetStop, a national self-exclusion register that allows individuals to exclude themselves from all Australian-licensed wagering services.

Australians lose approximately $16 billion (AUD25 billion) on legal forms of gambling each year, according to the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

The new legislation will not only ban the use of credit cards but also credit-related products linked to digital wallets and digital currencies like Bitcoin. This move aims to mitigate the risk of individuals purchasing cryptocurrencies with credit cards and using them for online gambling.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth highlighted that this regulation is a necessary step in reducing rates of problem gambling. "You can't use your credit card to place a bet for land-based gambling and the same rules should apply for online gambling too," she said.

Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth

The proposed laws align with a parliamentary inquiry's recommendations to phase out gambling advertising over a three-year period. Federal, state, and territory ministers are expected to convene later this year to discuss further changes to online gambling regulations.

Australia is not the only country eyeing further protections against problem gambling. In July this year, the Swedish Ministry of Finance asked the government to ban all credit card transactions across all gambling segments. 

In a 650-page report titled "Enhanced consumer protections against risky lending and over-indebtedness," the ministry explored the current consumer credit arrangements and protections in the market from 2021 onwards, finding some licensed companies have managed to offer credit indirectly through third-party services, a loophole in the current laws. 

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