Australia credit wagering ban comes to effect

Australia has adopted the measures of the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill of 2023, imposing a federal ban on gambling with funds from credit cards and other related products.

Effective 11 June, consumers across all of Australia’s six territorial states will no longer be able to use credit cards and other credit-related services as a payment method with online gambling operators.

The measure sees the Commonwealth Government of Australia apply a credit wagering ban federally, regardless of state autonomy on gambling licences, as the headline reform of the Gambling Amendment Bill of 2023.

Sanctioned by Parliament in November 2023, the Bill introduced changes to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 to prohibit the use of credit cards, credit-related products, and digital currency as payment methods for interactive wagering services.

New rules restricting credit card wagering for online gambling will be monitored and scrutinised by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The ACMA expands its regulatory oversight of online gambling activities, allowing the agency to issue fines of AU$235,000 (€150,000) for individual infringements of credit wagering rules on licensed businesses.

Since November, Australia’s state-licensed operators have been given a six-month period to implement changes applying the credit card ban, aligning new rules with existing restrictions applied to land-based venues.

“Australians should not be gambling with money they do not have,” Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said.

“Our commitment to ensuring that gambling takes place within a robust legislative framework with strong consumer protections remains steadfast, and we will have more to announce in due course.”

The Commonwealth Government stands by its toughened federal approach to curb problem gambling, which in 2023 saw it launch BetStop, a centralised self-exclusion register operating across all territorial states.

Further online protections included a pre-verification ID requirement imposed across all online gambling accounts before consumers can access websites/devices and play.

The ACMA requires online operators to send customers monthly activity statements outlining their wins and losses.

Industry backs changes… but why are lotto-&-keno excluded

Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) and its members have been strong supporters of this measure and have worked with the Commonwealth Government and the financial services industry since 2021 to deliver this credit card ban.

SBC News Australia credit wagering ban comes to effect
Kai Cantwell: RWA

Responsible Wagering Australia CEO Kai Cantwell said that this change was much needed, echoing Rowland’s words that Australians should only be gambling with money they have.

“This is an important measure to protect customers, making it easier for people to stay in control of their own gambling behaviour,” Cantwell said.

“It will complement the existing offering of safer gambling account management tools by RWA members.”

RWA members support the extension of the measure to all forms of gambling that have been exempted from the ban, such as lotteries and keno.

“If consumer protection measures aren’t consistent across all forms of gambling it will incentivise vulnerable Australians to move to less-regulated types of gambling, where they are more at risk of harm.”

Further online protections have seen RWA members develop a range of tools to ensure people can gamble safely, many of which have been adopted by the Commonwealth Government as part of the National Consumer Protection Framework (NCPF).

Albanese government has no roadmap for Gradual Advertising Ban

2024 sees the Labour Government of PM Anthony Albanese continue to examine the 31 recommendations made by the Parliamentary inquiry into gambling reforms.

Headline recommendations target imposing a ‘gradual ban’ on gambling advertising to be implemented by 2026, a measure that is yet to be authorised by Parliament as a federal enforcement.

Although states support adopting further advertising restrictions, a commitment to an outright ban remains a sensitive matter for stakeholders due to sports funding issues, in particular related to Australian racing and media rights.

Feedback on a gradual ban has recommended that the Labour Government focus on ‘closing loopholes’ for unlicensed operators using online advertisements and social media influencers to target vulnerable audiences under the age of 25.

The ACMA has published its key findings into  Gambling Advertising in Australia, in which it reported a distorted advertising spend between online gambling compared to land-based and lottery operators.

The agency’s key findings noted that over one million gambling ads aired on free-to-air TV (metro and regional) and metro radio, with 50% (502,800 spots) from gambling providers offering online gambling services. Furthermore, 51% (256,200 spots) of the total gambling ads on metro free-to-air TV were from online gambling providers.

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