The Australian government will this week hold an inquiry regarding the use of credit cards and digital wallets for the purpose of online gambling.
On Friday, August 13, the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services will explore whether such bookmaker payment methods should be subjected to federal regulation in order to protect the most vulnerable Australian gamblers.
“It is important that this inquiry, firstly, has some insight into the prevalence of online gambling in Australia and what emerging behaviours we are seeing in our communities, particularly as many parts of the country are suffering from repeated lockdowns during the COVID pandemic,” said Andrew Wallace MP, Committee Chair.
“We can then begin to analyse the true extent of the issues and explore options for how industry, financial institutions and government, can implement changes to protect Australians from gambling with borrowed money.
“I am keen to hear from the banking sector, who will be represented by the Australian Banking Association (ABA) on the measures they have introduced to empower those Australians concerned at their personal gambling behaviours, to set up limits and website blocks when they feel their gambling is getting out of control.”
The move to regulate credit betting has been a year in the making, as lawmakers introduced the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Prohibition on Credit Card Use) Bill back in August 2020.
Wallace pointed to the fact that while credit cards and e-wallets are now common deposit options with online bookmakers, they have never been accepted at brick-and-mortar gambling venues.
“I have made my personal views on gambling with credit cards known many times in my five years as a Member of Parliament. I have consistently stated that if you can’t use a credit card to support gambling in ‘real world’ casinos, clubs and at the track, I don’t believe we should allow it online,” he said.
“I am not advocating for a blanket ban on gambling. If people want to lose their own money, provided they can feed their families and pay their bills, that is a matter for them.
“What I believe should concern all Australians is when people borrow to fund their gambling habit, exacerbating the social harms that are perpetrated on not just them, but their innocent families as well.
“Ultimately, the use of credit to gamble online has cost consequences on families, society, charities and governments who often have to pick up the tab when the House ultimately wins.
“It’s important that the Committee closely examines the harms caused by the use of credit cards and digital wallets for online gambling, which remains the only forum legally open to Australians.
“It is also important the Committee makes appropriate recommendations to Government as to what actions it should take to remediate those harms.”
Wallace also took aim at Australia’s major banking institutions, saying they had repeatedly rejected invitations to appear before the Committee.
“The Committee would have preferred to include the Big Four Banks, who continue to make considerable profits from credit card interest, in the evidence gathering for this inquiry,” he said.
“However, disappointingly, each of the Big Four Banks have declined to appear before the Committee, despite repeated requests, citing competition constraint concerns.”
Several countries, including the United Kingdom and Germany, have already banned the use of credit cards for online gambling deposits.