Push to ban credit cards in online gambling goes before senate committee

The Australian
Push to ban credit cards in online gambling goes before senate committee
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Australian senators have heard impassioned pleas by financial counsellors and gambling reform groups to ban the use of credit cards for online betting.

The use of credit cards for online wagering platforms like Sportsbet could be banned if the proposed Interactive Gambling Amendment (Prohibition on Credit Car Use) Bill 2020 passes.

A Senate committee heard submissions on Friday as it prepare to hand down its recommendations.

Under the Bill, it’s suggested Australia follow the United Kingdom, which banned credit cards for all forms of remote wagering last year.

Proponents of the Bill say the ban would ensure problem gamblers didn’t use money they didn’t have and push themselves into debt.

Overwhelmingly, stakeholders who fronted the committee on Friday supported the ban.

Dr Mark Zirnsak from the Alliance for Gambling Reform told the committee that passing the bill would be a “significant step forward” in addressing gambling harm.

“The legislation is absolutely necessary,” he said.

Lauren Levine from Financial Counselling Australia said she and other financial counsellors saw first-hand the significant harm credit cards could have on those with gambling problems, particularly in the Covid-19 context.

“We know a lot of people are struggling in Covid, but other countries have done things with gambling in Covid,” Ms Levine said.

“Spain banned gambling advertising during lockdown, Sweden introduced a national gambling ID where people can only spend a set amount over all forms., the UK regulator introduced guidance for wagering operators.

“We’ve done … absolutely nothing, and gambling has increased. Sportsbet’s profits were up 108 per cent to the six months to June 30 last year.”

Andrew Whitecross from the Australian Institute of Family Studies said the Bill was not proposing people stop engaging “in gambling activities”, but it would stop problem gamblers’ ability to act impulsively and to chase losses.

“In that sense, it’s trying to provide some friction in people’s gambling behaviour,” he said.

“It would benefit some people and could reduce their propensity to engage in risky behaviours without stopping them from engaging in gambling if they want … just in a more planned way.”

There were also concerns about e-wallets, including PayPal, which can be filled using credit cards.

The committee will make its report on October 8.