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The Australian government is set to introduce a blanket ban on gambling with credit cards.


How and when?

The policy was announced in a joint statement from Australia’s Minister for Communications, Michelle Rowland, and Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth.

Consultation will commence shortly on draft legislation and the technical implementation of the ban, which the government said will see Bank Identification Numbers (BINs) used to identify and block credit card payments.

The change will bring online gambling operations in line with Australia’s land-based sector, where the use of credit cards for gambling is already prohibited.

It will be implemented through an amendment to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, and is expected to be introduced later this year.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) is set to receive enhanced powers to enforce the ban.

Interestingly, lottery services will be exempt from the ban, “as they present a low-risk to gambling harm,” according to the ministers’ statement.

Why?

The ban is the latest in a series of measures introduced with the aim of reducing gambling-related harm in Australia, alongside changes to the responsible gambling slogans used by operators and the introduction of BetStop, a national self-exclusion register.

In the land-based sector, “blocking BINs has been successfully deployed by Australian casinos and poker machine venues to stop credit card withdrawals from ATMs, and was used in the United Kingdom to implement its credit card ban for online gambling,” the statement added.

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

– Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland

The ministers also pointed out that Australia has the highest rate of gambling losses per adult globally, with a total of A$25bn per year lost by Australian punters.

It added figures from the Australian Institute of Family Studies, which estimates that some 7.2% of Australians are experiencing or are at risk of experiencing gambling harm, as well as a survey carried out by the Australian Banking Association which found more than 80% of Australians believe credit card betting should be restricted or banned.

Additional commentary

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

“Legislating a ban on the use of credit cards for online gambling will help protect vulnerable Australians and their loved ones.”

Rishworth added: “Minimising this harm is not a set and forget exercise. Bringing online wagering into line with land‑based gambling, where credit cards cannot be used, is another positive step.”

“Minimising this harm is not a set and forget exercise. Bringing online wagering into line with land‑based gambling, where credit cards cannot be used, is another positive step.”

– Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth

Rishworth said at a press conference today (28 April) that around 15-20% of online gambling is currently done using credit cards, and that “when there are people using debt to facilitate online gambling, then we have a problem.”

Trade association Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) – whose members include bet365, Betfair, Entain, PointsBet and Unibet – celebrated the decision, saying it is consistent with its belief “that Australians should only wager with their own funds.”

RWA CEO Kai Cantwell added: “RWA looks forward to partnering with the government to further discuss sensible, evidence-based measures that provide consumer protections to consumers, at the same time as ensuring the continued enjoyment of online wagering by Australians.”

Cantwell also pointed out that RWA members have been working with Australia’s federal government and the financial services industry to implement effective credit card bans for wagering since 2021.

Gambling with credit cards in the UK has been banned since April 2020.