Reactions to the Credit Card Betting Ban in Australia
Last year, the UK State regulatory bodies in the gambling industry banned credit card transactions for online gambling. The reason behind the decision was the protection of vulnerable players by preventing gambling on borrowed money.
Now a similar ban is proposed in Australian parliament by the Centre Alliance, formerly the Nick Xenophon Team. Senator Stirling Griff, Senator for South Australia, has proposed to prohibit credit card usage in any form for online gambling purposes.
Australian iGaming industry might be among the most regulated ones in the world. Apart from TABs and sports betting all the other forms of online gambling are illegal. Moreover, the online gambling operators that are licensed outside of the country cannot operate in Australia.
Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2020 concerning the use of credit cards should be reviewed by the relevant parliamentary committee by the end of July.
Unsurprisingly the proposed changes were not accepted by the business. One of the major gambling operators’ union, the Responsible Wagering Australia, has already expressed their disagreement with the bill stating that the proposed changes are not necessary.
The civic society organizations that work in the field of protection of gamblers’ rights have continuously raised the issue of gambling harm on the Australian population.
The supporters of the reforms have submitted evidences on the necessity of change. Their reasoning includes a newly released survey on the effects of gambling that indicates huge monetary losses of the gamblers. Other studies prove that people at risk to be subjected to gambling harm use credit cards 4 times more often than cash.
The human stories included in the submission make the issue more personal and emotional. The stories show that even apparently well-off people are not safe. Here is a direct quote from a middle-aged lawyer on his side of the story:
“It is far, far too easy to get what is essentially the equivalent of a pot of money with a huge interest rate associated with its withdrawal and no checking whatsoever as to the vulnerability of the applicant for credit.”
The opponents of the proposed legislation, Responsible Wagering Australia in particular, based their argument on the insufficient evidence, on their opinion, on the causal link between in subject of matter and harm caused by online gambling. They believe that credit cards do not encourage gambling in any way.
However, studies conducted in 2019 show that credit cards worsen the players’ gambling problems and financial situation by increasing their gambling debt.
“Many of our clients report that they do not feel like they are playing with actual money. They say that it’s ‘just a figure’, and amounts become ‘unreal’, and they easily lose track of what they have spent,”
Says another interest group that supports the amendment.
The operators’ union isn’t convinced by the above mentioned arguments and compares iGaming with a credit card with buying a lottery ticket with the same card.