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Could Australian banks give credit card gambling the boot?

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EVER felt inconvenienced by using your credit card to deposit funds into your online bank account?

Of course not, but if retail and super funds get their way, the simplest deposit method punters and online bookmaker agencies have at their disposal will be a thing of the past.

The Responsible Investment Association Australasia (RIAA) has written to the chairs of the big four banks stating that the exponential growth of online gambling is being exacerbated by the ease of access clients have to credit cards.

RIAA chief executive Simon O’Connor stated the response from the banks has been encouraging and that it could potentially on the verge of unveiling “what a solution may look like”.

Anti-gambling advocates are viewing the discourse as a major step towards minimising problem gambling in Australia.

UCA Funds Management, an ethical fund with $1 billion in funds under management, is increasing its lobbying of banks in Australia. Their plan is to introduce a debit-only system that would mean punters can only use money in readily available in their account to gamble.

UCA’s chief executive Michael Walsh stated that issuing lines of credit for the purposes of gambling is a violation of responsible lending.

“Providing people with credit to gamble does not fit within a responsible lending ethos.” Mr Walsh said.

“We are concerned that this will cause financial risk and reputational damage to the bank as more case studies emerge of banks facilitating problem gamblers getting more deeply into financial difficulty.”

The concern is that Australia’s fastest growing form of gambling – online gambling, particularly sports betting – presents a financial risk to banks because many problem gamblers use credit cards to fund their online gambling, which they believe leads to clients holding multiple cards and different institutions.

The issue is a pertinent one for banks who may feel compelled to act to avoid bad publicity, and financial institutions such as Citibank, Bank of Queensland, Suncorp and American Express, have already stopped facilitating gambling transactions on their credit cards.

Is it the bank’s place to tell people where they spend their money?

If there is one thing people hate, it’s being told how to spend their money.

Even though a credit card technically is not ‘your money’, once banks approve a credit card you can effectively spend the money in any way you choose.

What does excessive shopping, expensive holidays and living beyond your means have in common? They are all problems that people who have impulse control issues are susceptible to – yet the banks are happy to issue cards to people who have exhibited problems in those areas.

If the banks are willing to make a statement about the morality behind credit card use, the only thing they could do to save themselves from an ocean of hypocrisy is to eliminate the cards and the service all together – and that will never happen.

Credit cards are a problem as long as people who are unable to live within their means have access to them. It is a wider community issue that extends far further than just wanting to have a punt at an online gambling site.

Spending on lines of credit is a far reaching problem that does not start and end at a sports betting agency. Blocking credit cards to people who able to gamble responsibly is telling punters how to spend their money; and it is not their place to do so.

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7 years ago

Hi Would love to know how many people have answered the survey on ‘would you use a bank which bans bookmaker credit card use? Also the most up-to-date results.


Grant Summers
Grant Summers
6 years ago

People with compulsive gambling problems should NOT be given a few thousand dollars on their credit cards to burn through. Problem gamblers can’t stop without strong intervention.
Compulsive gambling is a terrible and devastating addiction, akin to leaving a drug addict alone with a kilo of crack. Utterly immoral.

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