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New Law in Australia Bans Credit Cards and Digital Currency for Online Gambling

A new law has been implemented in Australia, banning the use of credit cards and digital currency for online gambling. The law also includes fines for companies that fail to enforce the ban. Communications Minister Michelle Rowland emphasized the importance of not risking money that individuals do not have. The law, called the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023, was passed in late 2023, after a six-month period for the industry to adapt.

Building on Progress in Minimizing Gambling Harm:
Minister Rowland highlighted that the ban on credit cards for online gambling builds on the government’s progress in minimizing gambling harm over the past two years. Last year, the Albanese Labor government committed to banning credit cards for online wagering, and they have now successfully delivered on that commitment. The government remains committed to ensuring that gambling takes place within a robust legislative framework with strong consumer protections.

Aligning Online and Offline Gambling:
During the parliamentary debate, Shadow Communications Minister David Coleman expressed support for the bill, stating that it brings online gambling in line with offline gambling. The bill aims to adopt sensible policies that can reduce harm, similar to the Coalition’s previous steps to ban gambling advertising during live sport. Although amendments to the legislation were voted down by the government, there was broad stakeholder support for its key provisions.

Support for Gambling Reform:
Independent MP Dai Le voiced her support for the bill, as gambling reform is an issue close to her heart. She acknowledged that while the ban on credit cards is a positive step, it is just one piece of the puzzle in tackling gambling harm. Ms. Le stressed that more needs to be done to address the harmful effects of problem gambling. She shared personal experiences of her mother’s struggle with gambling addiction and advocated for introducing gambling harm education in school curriculums.

The Need for Further Measures:
Ms. Le highlighted alarming statistics from the Fairfield local government area, where residents were losing $1.7 million a day on poker machines alone. She called for stricter regulations on gambling advertising, suggesting that it should be treated similarly to alcohol advertising and restricted from reaching vulnerable young people on social media. While acknowledging the value of the ban on credit cards, Ms. Le believed that the government had not gone far enough and emphasized the importance of additional measures.

Responsible Wagering Australia’s Perspective:
Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) welcomed the ban on using credit cards for online gambling and advocated for its extension to all forms of gambling, including lotteries and keno. RWA CEO Kai Cantwell emphasized the need for consistent consumer protection measures across all forms of gambling to prevent vulnerable Australians from seeking less-regulated types of gambling. He stated that the ban would complement the existing safer gambling account management tools offered by RWA members.

Government Commitment to Preventing Gambling Harm:
Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth emphasized the government’s commitment to preventing and reducing harm from online wagering. The ban on credit cards is seen as a crucial step in creating a safer environment for Australians at risk of gambling harm. The government is also considering recommendations from a recent inquiry and will make further announcements in the future.

The implementation of the ban on credit cards and digital currency for online gambling in Australia represents a significant step in minimizing gambling harm. While stakeholders have shown support for the legislation, some believe that more needs to be done to address the harmful effects of problem gambling. Stricter regulations on gambling advertising and the inclusion of gambling harm education in school curriculums are among the measures suggested by advocates. The government remains committed to protecting vulnerable Australians and will continue working towards creating a safer environment for those at risk of gambling harm.

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