Credit card gambling in Australia debated by MP and lobby group 

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
Credit card gambling ban meets opposition from industry group

The use of credit cards to gamble has been backed by the representative for the biggest players in Australian online gambling.

The ABC reports that Responsible Wagering Australia chief executive Brent Jackson, who represents the likes of Sportsbet, Bet365, Ladbrokes, Neds and others, said there was no reason to stop Australians from going into debt to gamble.

He said online gambling was “safer” than betting in a casino or at a poker machine because it was governed by strict legislation and companies could monitor gambling behaviour in real time.

“They do keep an eye out specifically for unusual behaviour and strange behavioural patterns and activity that is not considered normal and might be risky,” Mr Jackson said.

“We can take a number of interventions aside from banning them completely, we often contact customers directly as this is happening.”

Mr Jackson said it should be left up to punters to decide whether they used credit cards when gambling online.

“We think that consumers should have the right to choose and directly manage their betting preferences,” he said.

“What we’re not seeing is any evidence of a problem out there at all.

“We think punters behave responsibly.”

Mr Jackson’s remarks come as Queensland MP Andrew Wallace has called for a crackdown in the use of credit cards in online gambling.

The LNP Member for Fisher is pushing the country’s banks to create a voluntary code of conduct that would mean punters could only place online bets using their own money.

Mr Wallace said it was a “no brainer”.

“We know that people pay 22 per cent or thereabouts in interest on their credit card balances, that’s a very dangerous mix,” he said.

“You can’t use a credit card to go into a TAB and gamble on the horses or the dogs, you can’t use a credit card at a casino and you can’t use a credit card to gamble on the pokies.”

Major banks don’t stop credit card gambling but others do 

For almost 20 years, gamblers have been unable to use credit cards to access cash advances in casinos and poker machine lounges.

Suncorp and Macquarie have already voluntarily stopped allowing credit cards to be used on wagering apps, but the big four, Westpac, NAB, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank have not followed suit.

In late 2019, the Australian Banking Association canvassed members and others as to whether banks should disallow the use of credit cards on gambling apps.

Its report found 81 per cent of Australians felt the practice should be restricted or banned.

Only seven per cent supported no restrictions.

The ABA described gamblers as “vulnerable customers” on its website, but has decided against any kind of blanket policy citing fears it could fall foul of anti-competition laws.

But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission said it had supported other voluntary codes of conduct with banks.

A spokeswoman said the ACCC could also grant an exemption to the law if there was a significant public benefit.

Late last year, an Australian Gambling Research Centre survey of 2,000 people found one in three signed up for new online betting accounts.

The biggest growth market was comprised of people aged 18-34, who the centre found were gambling more and spending more.

Sportsbet’s profit jumped by 108 per cent between April and June last year during COVID-19 shutdowns, increasing from $96 million to $191 million.

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