Australia's Online Gambling Credit Card Ban Now in Force

As of June 11, Australian gamblers and bettors can no longer use credit cards or similar financial products to fund their online gambling activities. This new regulation brings online gambling regulations in line with those for land-based casinos, where credit card use has long been prohibited.

A man makes a payment on his cell phone using a credit card. (Source: Shutterstock)

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The ban stems from the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023, passed by the Australian Parliament late last year. The legislation aims to curb gambling-related harm by limiting access to easy credit for online wagers. Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), an advocacy group, welcomed the change. "This is an important measure to protect customers, making it easier for people to stay in control of their own gambling behaviour," said RWA CEO Kai Cantwell.

Related: Australian Senate Passes Online Gambling Credit Card Ban

The ban encompasses a broad range of financial instruments beyond traditional credit cards. This includes debit cards linked to credit lines, digital wallets that utilize credit, and even cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has been granted expanded enforcement powers to ensure compliance. Companies found violating the ban could face hefty fines of up to AUD234,750 (US$154,888).

However, the ban is not all-encompassing. It excludes specific forms of government-sanctioned gambling, such as lotteries and keno. This exclusion has drawn criticism from some who argue it undermines the overall effectiveness of the legislation. RWA's Cantwell voiced concerns, stating, "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."

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Increase in Illicit Gambling Possible

The impact of the credit card ban on the online gambling industry in Australia remains to be seen. Some experts predict a decline in overall online gambling activity, particularly among those who relied on credit to fund their wagers. However, others suggest players may simply shift towards alternative payment methods, such as debit cards linked to checking accounts or prepaid vouchers.

There's another possibility that has to be considered. Australia has long been a cryptocurrency-friendly country, and the new change might lead to an increase in the use of offshore gambling platforms, despite an attempt by the government to shut these down.

The success of the ban will likely hinge on its effectiveness in reducing gambling-related harm. Australia has a relatively high rate of problem gambling compared to other developed nations. Proponents of the ban hope it will empower individuals to gamble more responsibly and minimize the financial risks associated with online wagering.

The implementation of this ban is a significant development in Australia's approach to regulating online gambling. It remains to be seen whether the ban will achieve its intended goals and pave the way for similar regulations in other countries grappling with the challenges of online gambling and its potential for financial and social harm.


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