Credit card usage will officially be prohibited for online gambling purposes thanks to a new law passed by the Australian House of Representatives. While the decision is set to impact most forms of remote gambling, online lotteries, as well as activities tied to non-profits, will remain unaffected. This recent ban of credit card use for real money AU casino online and sports book customers has been decided and made official in an attempt to regulate problem gambling.
The ban was initially endorsed by the banking sector in March, prompted by growing concerns about the rise in debt and gambling addiction. However, this wasn’t the country’s first attempt to curtail the use of credit cards for online gambling. The independent peak body Responsible Wagering Australia had previously sought to establish a framework for the voluntary ban of credit cards a few years ago. Nevertheless, the group has since expressed support for the government’s bill.
Exploring The Credit Card Ban
The approved bill resulted from a collaborative effort, with the government consulting several stakeholders, including harm reduction advocates, wagering and lottery providers, operators, and banking payment organizations. However, members of the opposition, including crossbenchers, opposed the ban, attempting to amend the proposed changes. Despite this, with the two major political parties voting in favor of the blanket ban, the next steps involve the 2023 act being voted on by the Senate. Moreover, Responsible Wagering Australia members, including Bet365, Betfair, and Entain, expressed their endorsement for the proposed ban.
If it passes, Australian users will be prohibited from using credit cards to deposit funds into their online casino and sportsbook accounts. Operators will need to implement all necessary changes to comply with the proposed legislation within six months of its passing. Licensees in Australia that fail to adhere to the rules could face fines of up to AU$234,750. Moreover, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will be empowered to enforce new and existing penalties for those that breach the ban.
If the bill is passed, it will serve as an extension of the rules currently in place that prohibit all licensed brick-and-mortar gambling venues from accepting payments via credit cards under Australia’s Interactive Gambling Act of 2001. The law applies to retail establishments involving games of chance, including land-based sportsbook venues.
However, the undeniable increase in the popularity of online gambling has necessitated amending the current legislation to cover virtual platforms as well. Recent data has revealed that in 2018-2019, Australians incurred around AU $25 billion in gambling losses per capita. While the issue was exacerbated by the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic, the convenience and accessibility of online platforms remain significant draws for players.
It is also important to note that Australia is not the only country exploring a blanket ban on credit card usage for online gambling. The Swedish government has recently expressed interest in a similar prohibition; however, the country’s Gambling Authority has so far only advised against using such methods for payments, despite being in support of an eventual ban. Moreover, Norway and the United Kingdom have already successfully implemented their credit card bans.
Norway’s ban directly targets offshore online casinos and sportsbooks, not domestic operators, while the UK put into effect the country’s ban in 2020, impacting both retail and online games of chance and sports betting.
Combating Gambling Related Harm
The credit card ban is just one of the ways the Australian government is attempting to address the skyrocketing rates of gambling harm spreading across the country. Through its National Consumer Protection Framework, the government has already launched its first national self-exclusion platform, which has recorded more than 10,000 registrations since the service went live back in August.
Additionally, the government has enforced pre-verification, requiring all operators to verify customers’ identities once they register for an account before placing a bet. There has also been an introduction of evidence-based taglines to replace “Gamble Responsibly,” along with consistent training for staff working in the sector, ensuring they are equipped to provide the necessary help for players who may be struggling.