Credit card gambling ban expanding to cover online bets
Using credit cards to gamble online will be outlawed by legislation being introduced by the government to widen an existing ban on betting with plastic.
Gamblers will soon be unable to place wagers online using their credit cards in a bid to reduce problem betting.
The federal government introduced legislation to parliament on Wednesday banning credit from being used to bet online.
Under the new laws, companies that don't enforce the credit card ban will be slapped with a fine of more than $234,000.
The communications watchdog will also be given new powers to enforce the changes.
Communications Minister Michelle Rowland said the reforms would mean problem gamblers would not get further entrenched in debt.
"A ban on the use of credit cards and credit-related products for online wagering will have the immediate and effective impact of stopping people from gambling with money they do not have," she told parliament.
"Online gambling is growing in Australia due to easier and faster access through mobile devices and a proliferation of online gambling applications."
The laws will also ban credit cards linked to digital wallets such as ApplePay, as well as ban digital currency such as bitcoin for payment.
"This mitigates the risk that individuals could purchase cryptocurrency using a credit card and then use these funds to pay it online," Ms Rowland said.
New credit payments that may emerge as a loophole to the gambling laws would be able to banned under measures in the laws.
Gamblers and betting companies will have a six-month transition period to adjust their gambling habits from when the new laws pass parliament, should it be successful.
Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth said a ban on credit cards for betting online was the next step to reduce rates of problem gambling.
"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," she said.
"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."
Financial Counselling Australia director Lauren Levin welcomed the changes.
"We're delighted that it covers not only credit cards, but also digital wallets and digital currencies," she said.
"Digital currencies can have wild fluctuations in value, so not only do people speculate on their bets, but also on the movement in the digital currency."
However, she said she was concerned the laws did not cover online lotteries.
"Online lotteries have changed the whole situation, as the danger of losing large sums is now just as high as someone gambling on online sports betting," Ms Levin said.
"There is no good reason for online lotteries to allow people to buy a $10,000 ticket on credit, or for people to enter a $3,000 syndicate on credit. Gambling is gambling."
The proposed laws come after the government introduced a self-exclusion register for gamblers, allowing people to opt out of betting companies and advertising for three months or more.
A parliamentary inquiry earlier this year recommended a phasing out of gambling advertising over a three-year period.
It was one of 31 recommendations made to crack down on problem gambling.
Federal, state and territory ministers will meet later this year to discuss changes to online gambling.