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Australia is set to rubber stamp a ban on online wagering with credit cards as the country’s Albanese Labor Government looks to further reduce the risk of gambling-related harm.

The ban, which was originally announced in April, looks set to be made official in parliament today (13 September) as part of The Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023.

Regulatory power

Crucially, the bill will expand the remit of the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The regulator will now be awarded the power to fine operators in breach of the new guidelines for an amount up to A$234,750.

Once the legislation is approved, there will be a six-month grace period for the new credit card laws as gambling companies and their customers get accustomed to the transition.

Australia’s regulated gambling industry has largely come out in support of the ban. The UK outlawed gambling with credit cards in April 2020.

“It’s as simple as this: people should not be betting with money they do not have,” said Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland.

“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,” she added.

Australia has the highest annual gambling losses per person in the world at around A$1,300 per adult, totalling more than A$25bn according to the Australian Financial Review.  

Government clampdown

The Australian government – led by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese – has introduced several gambling-related restrictions since taking charge in May 2022, including through implementing measures under the National Consumer Protection Framework.

These include the introduction of monthly activity statements to outline wins and losses and new evidence-based taglines to replace ‘Gamble Responsibly’.

Nationally consistent safer gambling training for staff working at online operators has also been introduced, while the BetStop self-exclusion register has also been launched.

Further regulation is coming, including mandatory customer pre-verification, where an operator must verify a user’s identity before allowing them to place a bet.

“It’s as simple as this: people should not be betting with money they do not have.”
Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland

Future measures are expected to be revealed once the government has considered the recommendations outlined by a parliamentary inquiry into online gambling, with a meeting of state, territory and Commonwealth ministers to be held before the end of the year.

“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,” said Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth.

“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,” she added.

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