The Australian House of Representatives has passed a bill to introduce a blanket ban on using credit cards for online gambling. The Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023 was submitted in September and aims to ban the use of credit cards and other credit-related products, as well as digital currencies.
The bill was passed in the lower house of the country’s parliament on Tuesday after significant debate for amendments. It will now move to the Senate, which is the upper house of parliament in Australia, for further debate. The bill received support from both Australia’s Labor and Liberal Parties.
The government is planning a six-month transition period that will allow operators, payment providers, and consumers to get acquainted with the new rules. The legislation aims to strengthen the government’s objectives to protect vulnerable Australians from online gambling harms.
Apart from banning the use of credit cards for online wagering altogether, the bill will bring along with it several other provisions. These include hefty fines for operators who do not enforce the ban. Licensees in Australia could face fines of up to AU$234,750 ($149,722) for not adhering to the new provisions.
Additionally, the bill seeks to strengthen the capabilities of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). It will enable ACMA to enforce new and existing civil penalty clauses under the act and take responsibility for issuing penalties to those that breach the ban.
Australia already has a ban in place on gambling with credit cards at land-based venues, meaning the new bill would place a blanket ban on all credit card gambling across the country.
Following Great Britain’s ban on credit card gambling in 2020, members of Responsible Wagering Australia, including Bet365, Betfair, and Entain, noted that they would support such a ban in Australia. Starting in 2021, some banks like Bank Australia prohibited account holders from using their credit cards for gambling.
The Australian government in recent times has taken several steps to protect consumers from gambling addiction as part of the National Consumer Protection Framework. These include BetStop, a program that was launched in August. It allows consumers to self-exclude from all licensed interactive wagering service providers.
The government has additionally launched evidence-based taglines to replace 'Gamble Responsibly' and has implemented nationally consistent training for staff working in the sector.