Australia’s media authority has cautioned that online and telephone gambling establishments continue to successfully extend credit to vulnerable individuals.
ACMA Strikes Out Against Gambling on Credit
The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has flagged certain shortcomings in enforcing restrictions on credit gambling in the country. According to the watchdog, Australians are still able to access telephone lines and request a credit to gamble away with funds that aren’t theirs, nor are said consumers able to afford gambling on credit in the first place.
According to ACMA, there are numerous shortcomings in enforcing the supposed mechanisms that prevent vulnerable consumers from accessing such credits in the first place.
Some of the measures include the monitoring of funds exchanged between operators and customers, the number of exemptions, and the establishment of a credit contract. ACMA, which is in charge of enforcing the Interactive Gambling Act, is now focused on eradicating the provision of credit by online gambling and telephone betting establishments.
The change was introduced into the Act in 2017 to safeguard consumers from the potential financial ruin they face due to over-spending on gambling products. ACMA has cautioned that requesting credits over the phone makes it difficult for anyone to establish whether an agreement between a customer and a gambling firm has happened in the first place.
Extending Credit without Players Realizing
The regulator cited cases in which payment would not go through with the gambling company extending funds for those players to continue participating in gambling games without realizing that they are playing on credit. ACMA had this to add:
“In such situations, it is not possible to establish a mutual intention to provide credit. In the absence of documented exchanges between the parties or admission by the parties, it is necessary to look for patterns of behavior or other indicators sufficient to support an inference of the probable existence of such an agreement.”–ACMA
As part of ACMA’s commitment to protecting consumers, the regulator has asked for more definitive guidelines on credit and that online firms are excluded from providing such credit in the first place.
ACMA has also been focusing on the practice where operators allow customers to reverse withdrawals or even encouraging them to do so. A similar issue was flagged in New Jersey, where licensed operators have delayed payments so as to allow hesitant customers enough time to reverse their payments.
ACMA is now looking for feedback in the hopes of enforcing a prohibition on this practice as well. However, there are still a few cases where a gambling firm can extend a line of credit to gamblers. This applies to racecourses that generate less than AU$30 million, ACMA explained.
Another exemption is if two gambling businesses are extending lines of credit to each other. Most recently, ACMA blacklisted another 18 gambling websites for a failure to provide a licensed gambling product.
Australia also faces a problem with pokies that have been instrumental in aiding organized crime groups to launder money.