The federal government is being urged to “do more” to stop gambling harm after it was revealed Labor will introduce laws banning the use of credit cards for online gambling.
The rules already exist for betting in pubs, clubs and casinos, with the Australian Communications and Media Authority to be given greater powers to enforce the ban, which would apply to wagering services with Australian licences.
Chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, Reverend Tim Costello, welcomes the change.
“When you are using borrowed money … you are four times more likely to do damage and harm to yourself,” he told the Today show.
“Banning this sort of credit is important … lots of other countries did it a long time ago, it’s about time that we actually caught up.”
While he has thrown his support behind the reforms, Mr Costello said more needs to be done.
“We have to do more. The ban on credit should have happened long ago,” he said.
“We have to take this next step. I am glad to see that the public have said, ‘We have had enough’.”
Australians are suffering the greatest gambling losses of anywhere in the world, with Mr Costello blaming foreign sports betting companies and an onslaught of advertisements.
“In Melbourne on free-to-air- television, there’s 943 ads a day,” Mr Costello said.
“We have the worst problem when it comes to this over anywhere in the world.”
Australia has the highest gambling losses per adult, with a total of $25bn in losses per annum.
The move by the Albanese government follows the lead of the United Kingdom, which introduced a similar ban about three years ago.
Federal parliament began considering the banning of credit cards for internet wagering in November 2021 when the restriction was recommended by a parliamentary committee on corporations and financial services.
Gambling addicts, reform advocates and crossbench MPs recently revived the idea as they heap pressure on the government to do more to tackle problem gambling.
The government says it will soon begin consulting with stakeholders on draft legislation and the technical implementation of the credit card ban, which will use bank identification numbers (BINs) to identify and block credit card payments.
Australian casinos and poker machine venues use a similar method of blocking BINs to stop credit card withdrawals from ATMs.
The Australian Institute of Family Studies recently estimated that 7.2 per cent of Australians are already experiencing – or at risk of experiencing – gambling harm; the impact of which typically extends to around six others, including family and friends.
A parliamentary inquiry that has been scrutinising online gambling heard earlier this month that half a million Australians have asked to be placed on self-exclusion schemes for problem gamblers so they can’t lay bets.