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Luke Thompson February 17, 2021 4 min read
RWA: Online Gamblers Should Not Be Stopped From Going into Debt
Brent Jackson, CEO of Responsible Wagering Australia, has defended punters’ right to use credit to gamble after Queensland MP Andrew Wallace has called for a ban on credit gambling.
Online Gambling Is Considered Safer Than Casino Betting
Jackson insists there is no evidence that online gambling on credit is dangerous. A number of interventions can be taken before enforcing a ban. Online casinos are safer in that they follow strict legislation; monitor risky and unusual behavior and can intervene in real-time when necessary. Jackson said customers should have the ability to choose whether or not they use credit cards when gambling.
On the other side, Andrew Wallace, Queensland MP insists that credit card interest rates are as high as 22% and that can be dangerous. He believes that, as credit card bets are unavailable at TAB, casino and pokies websites should be held to the same criteria. The LNP Member demands Australian Banks voluntarily put a ban on credit card gambling otherwise he will try to force the change.
Some banks have already limited credit cards on betting apps however the largest banks haven’t followed through yet. Gamblers are unable to use credit cards in casinos and poker machine lounges and it has been like that for almost 20 years.
The Number of People Betting Online Has Increased during the Pandemic
During the pandemic online betting has recorded an increase in income. Sportsbet’s profit sky-rocketed by 108 per cent between April and June last year during COVID-19 lockdowns, doubling from $96 million to $191m.
According to research done by the Australian Gambling Research Centre from late 2019, every third person in 2,000 has signed up for new online betting accounts during the COVID-19 lockdown.
The biggest increase in new users is of people aged 18-34 and these customers were found to be both wagering and spending more.
Last year during a session of the Australian Banking Association on whether banks should stop credit card use online it was noted 81% of Australians are pro ban and only 7 are against the restriction.
Gamblers are described as “vulnerable customers” on the ABA’s website however the association has decided against any kind of restrictions in order to avoid any wrangles with anti-competition laws.
Amongst the organizations supporting restrictions is the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) who has stated exemptions to the law can be made if a considerable positive effect on the public is observed.
A former problem gambler, David McAnalen, shared he would bet on anything he could get his hand on and no matter the obstacle he would always find a way to continue wagering.
“If I was still an active gambler when the opportunity came into the online world, I would have embraced it as well.” he added.
McAnalen said his family was the reason he stopped after they told him he could no longer be a part of their lives if he continued punting.
As a Relationships Counselor in Queensland he now helps other people with their demons and actively chooses not to gamble anymore.
“I wake up in the morning and say: ‘There are a lot of things I can do today and one thing I’m choosing not to do today is gambling’.”
Science Backs up Claims That Online Gambling Can Be Dangerous
Associate professor at Monash University, Charles Livingstone, commented that there are no measures put in place at this time that make gambling safer for punters. Professor Livingstone has been studying gambling behavior for years and believes online gambling has the potential to be safer, but that’s not necessarily the case right now.
According to a recent Oxford University research, gambling increases the risk of death and is associated with addictive behavior and financial problems. Mr Wallace’s call for change and banks’ social responsibility came about on this research’s ground.