Australians at risk of online gambling harm will be better protected through a ban on credit card payments and fines of up to $234,750 for companies who don’t enforce it, through legislation to be introduced by the Albanese Labor Government to Parliament.
The Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023 will seek to ban the use of credit cards and credit related products, as well as digital currencies, used for online wagering.
The Bill continues the Government’s priority work to protect vulnerable Australians from online gambling harms and will also provide the Minister for Communications with the power to prohibit additional credit-related products as they emerge as a way of “future proofing” the legislation.
The introduction of the Bill implements recommendations from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services (PJC Inquiry) from November 2021.
The Bill will expand the Australian Communications and Media Authority’s powers to ensure strong and effective enforcement of the new and existing civil penalty provisions under the Act. Penalties up to $234,750 could apply for any breach of the new provisions.
Industry and consumers will be provided with a six month transition period from the date of Royal Assent to change their business and betting behaviours respectively.
Since coming to Government Labor has prioritised work to reduce the harm caused by online gambling, including through implementing the final measures under the National Consumer Protection Framework.
This includes the introduction of monthly activity statements outlining wins and losses, new evidence-based taglines to replace “Gamble Responsibly,” nationally consistent training for staff working in online gambling companies and BetStop, the National Self-Exclusion Register, which allows consumers to exclude themselves from all Australian licensed wagering services for a period of three months up to a lifetime.
In addition, the Government will also introduce mandatory customer pre-verification, requiring wagering service providers to verify a customer’s identity when they register for a new account and before they can place a bet. This requirement is expected to be in place by the end of this month.
The Government is carefully considering the recommendations of a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling to inform future measures to help address the harm caused by online gambling.
A meeting of state, territory and Commonwealth ministers responsible for online wagering nationally will be held before the end of the year.
Quotes attributable to Minister for Communications, the Hon Michelle Rowland MP:
“It’s as simple as this: people should not be betting with money they do not have.
“The Australian Government remains committed to protecting Australians from gambling harms.
“Legislating a ban on the use of credit cards for online gambling will help to protect vulnerable Australians and their loved ones.
“I would like to thank the wide variety of stakeholders, including harm reduction advocates, wagering and lottery providers, and banking payment organisations, for their contributions to and support for this Bill.”
Quotes attributable to Minister for Social Services, the Hon Amanda Rishworth MP:
“Since coming to Government we’ve prioritised addressing the harm caused by online gambling and I’m pleased we are taking the next step with legislation to ban the use of credit cards.
“You can’t use your credit card to place a bet for land-based gambling and the same rules should apply for online gambling too.
“We’re serious about protecting vulnerable Australians from the harm we know online gambling can cause. Any platform breaching the new rules will face penalties.
“We know minimising the harm caused by online gambling is not a set and forget exercise and I look forward to working with my state and territory counterparts on what comes next to continue this positive change.”