By proposing the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023, Australia is taking substantial efforts to combat problem gambling. The bill intends to prohibit the use of credit cards and other credit-related items for online gambling. This regulation also applies to digital money used in gambling.
The proposed measure imposes severe penalties on operators who fail to enforce the prohibition, with fines of up to AU$234,750 imposed on licensees who fail to comply with the new legislation. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) will be given the authority to execute these sanctions, ensuring that the prohibition is strictly enforced.
In alignment with existing regulations on credit card use for land-based gambling, this bill seeks to extend the ban to all forms of online gambling. The goal is to prevent individuals from betting with borrowed funds, thereby protecting vulnerable Australians from gambling-related harm.
The initiative to ban credit card gambling in Australia has been in the works for some time. In November 2021, recommendations from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services paved the way for this legislation. However, discussions about a credit card gambling ban have been ongoing for several years.
In December 2019, the Australian Banking Association (ABA) began consultations on credit card use in gambling, focusing on how banks can enhance player protection. The call for action gained momentum in spring 2020 when Great Britain successfully implemented its credit card gambling ban. Notably, several prominent betting companies, including Bet365, Betfair, and Entain, expressed their support for a similar ban in Australia.
The government consulted with various stakeholders to formulate the amendment bill, engaging operators, harm reduction advocates, wagering and lottery providers, as well as banking payment organizations.
Before the legislation takes effect, a six-month transition period will be implemented for both the gambling industry and consumers. This period begins immediately upon the bill’s Royal Assent.
Michelle Rowland MP, the Minister for Communications, emphasized the importance of this legislation in safeguarding Australians from gambling harm. She stated that people should not be gambling with money they do not have and reiterated the government’s commitment to protecting citizens from such harm.
Amanda Rishworth MP, the Minister for Social Services, highlighted the bill as the latest step in the government’s efforts to address online gambling-related harm. She emphasized that the same rules should apply for online gambling as they do for land-based gambling when it comes to credit card use. Platforms found in breach of the new rules will face penalties.
This legislation represents a significant move by Australia to tackle problem gambling and protect vulnerable individuals from its adverse effects. As the bill progresses, the government intends to continue working with state and territory counterparts to further minimize the harm caused by online gambling.