Credit Card Gambling Is Again up for Debate in Australia

Credit cards are once again an incendiary topic for sports gambling bodies in Australia, lawmakers and anti-gambling bodies.

Credit Cards Once in the Crosshairs of Lawmakers 

A bill sponsored by Senator Stirling Griff in Australia is facing pushback from the gambling industry as the legislation seeks to minimize the use of credit cards for the purposes of online transactions on various gambling websites.

Griff’s proposal has to do with the acceptance and facilitation, and promotion, of credit card payments in online gambling and, seeks to criminalize the activity, a move that will stop many consumers from accessing their accounts with a payment method they have grown used to.

The request comes at a time when Australia’s online gambling industry focuses exclusively on regulated sports betting provided by TAB Corporation and other authorized license-holders that do not run casino-style games, which are usually associated with a higher level of addiction and unreasonable spending.

Credit card payments pertaining to gambling in Australia are restricted to sports betting sites and exchanges. The bill, dubbed the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2020 has been outright opposed by Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) a trade group that tries to balance between overbearing legislation and what is good for consumers.

RWA Objects on Evidence and Principle

Responsible Wagering Australia’s main objection has to do with the fact that the bill produces no proof that sports betting operators such as Betfair, Unibet, Sportsbet, bet365 or TAB have broken any rules that have to do with monitoring credit gambling policies.

In fact, RWA remains confident that the present way of operating online sports betting facilities has been beneficial for stakeholders as well as consumers who have picked credit cards as a trusted payment option.

RWA further argued that there has been no evidence to link the use of credit cards to a higher incidence of problem gambling, for example, doubting the premise of Griff’s bill altogether. However, RWA is not alone in arguing the case.

Several other NGOs, including the Alliance for Gambling Reform (AGR), Suicide Prevention Australia, and Relationships Australia, have all said that existing operators’ policies led to harmful practices for consumers, describing the ramifications as “extremely negative.”

One case study by AGR talked about a punter who had lost AU$65,000 ($50,700) through debt gambling. AGR added that current policies made it very easy for Australians to gamble on credit. Relationships Australia cited another study by the Australian Institute of Family Studies which said that a higher incidence of credit card use led to people ending up in bigger debt.

Credit card gambling has been opposed in Australia just as well as in the rest of the world. In October 2020, the Bank of Australia decided to suspend support for credit card transactions that pertained to gambling. In March 2021, many Australian banks came together and agreed that credit cards should be banned for the purposes of gambling.

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