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Australia credit card gambling ban comes into effect

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A ban on gambling with credit cards, other credit-related products and digital currencies in Australia has officially come into effect from today (11 June).

Previously, players in Australia have been able to fund gambling using a credit card or other, similar products. However, the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023, which was introduced last September, has stopped this practice with the new ban.

The legislation, which amends the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, secured approval in the country’s parliament late last year. Australia’s House of Representatives passed the bill in November, allowing it to progress to the Senate, where it received the green light a few weeks later.

The credit card ban applies to almost all online gambling in Australia. A ban on land-based gambling was already in place. However, the ban excludes certain games, with consumers will still able to use credit cards to play lotteries and keno.

A six-month transition period was put into effect, allowing licensed operators to prepare for the changes. This has now concluded, with those who breach the rules facing a fine of up to AU$234,750 (£121,809/€144,025/US$154,978).

The bill also grants new powers to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA). These include enforcing new and existing penalty provisions, as well as assuming responsibility for issuing penalties for breaches.

“Our government takes seriously our responsibility to prevent and reduce harm from online wagering,” Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth said. “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. Now the same rules apply for online gambling.”

Ban builds on other measures to tackle gambling harm in Australia  

The credit card ban is by no means the only step Australia has taken to address gambling harm.

Other recent initiatives include launching BetStop, the national self-exclusion register. Since going live last August, more than 22,000 Australians have self-excluded from online wagering and promotions.

The government has also introduced mandatory pre-verification. This requires operators to verify a customer’s identity when they register for an account and before they can start betting. Online operators must also send customers monthly activity statements outlining their wins and losses.

Other steps include replacing the ‘Gamble Responsibly’ message on wagering advertising with evidence-based taglines. In addition, the government has committed to introducing nationally consistent staff training.

As for future changes, from September, mandatory minimum classifications for gambling-like content in computer games will come into effect.

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

Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, added: “Australians should not be gambling with money they do not have. Last year, the Albanese Labor Government committed to banning credit cards for online wagering – and we’ve delivered.

“This ban builds on the significant progress to minimise gambling harm that the Albanese Government has made over the past two years, which is already benefitting thousands of vulnerable Australians.

“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.”

Criticism remains over exclusions

While the ban has been relatively well received, there has been criticism over the decision to exclude certain types of gambling.

Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), a leading advocate for a credit ban, has repeated calls for the ban to be extended and cover all types of gambling.

“This is an important measure to protect customers, making it easier for people to stay in control of their own gambling behaviour,” RWA CEO Kai Cantwell said. “It will complement the existing offering of safer gambling account management tools by RWA members. 

“RWA and its members support the extension of this measure to all forms of gambling that have been exempted from the ban such as 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.”

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