The Senate of Australia has approved the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2023 (Credit and Other Measures), which will prohibit the use of credit card transactions to fund online gambling accounts.
The Bill’s measures were approved by the House of Representatives last month and forwarded to the Senate for its sign-off into federal law across Australia’s six state territories.
The Bill’s text expands the scope of the credit card ban to all credit-loan services and digital currencies as well as online gambling, and complements an existing ban on credit card use in land-based wagering venues, effectively creating a nationwide ban on credit card transactions for gambling.
Compliance with the Bill’s laws will be overseen by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), which have been granted powers to impose fines of up to AU$234,750 for breaches of credit card rules.
Following its approval by the Senate, a six-month transition period will be observed after the bill receives royal assent, allowing operators, payment providers, and consumers to align with the new regulations.
The ban on credit card transactions was supported by industry standards body Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) “as Australians should only be gambling with money that they have”.
However, the RWA criticised the exclusion of lotteries and keno from the ban, noting their prevalence and impact on low socioeconomic communities.
RWA President Kai Cantwell stated: “It is disappointing to see that other forms of gambling such as lotteries and keno have been exempted from the ban, especially when lotteries are the most common form of gambling in Australia and are commonly accessed by people in low-socioeconomic communities.
“The latest Australian Gambling Statistics show that Australians lost more than $3.2bn on lotteries and keno in 2020-21. With the introduction of online keno in Victoria, keno losses increased more than 400% from 2021-22 to 2022-23.
“Lotteries were also exempt from the National Self Exclusion Register, Betstop, meaning that Australians who have self-excluded from online gambling are not precluded from gambling up to $10,000 online at a time through lotteries.
“To effectively reduce gambling harm, consumer protection measures must be in place across all forms of gambling; otherwise, those at risk of harm may simply shift from one form of gambling to another that is less regulated.”