Financial Counselling Australia (FCA), Financial Rights Legal Centre and the Consumer Action Law Centre welcome the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services’ recommendation for legislation to prohibit online gambling operators from accepting credit card funded deposits.
Yesterday the Committee released its report, which recommended that gambling companies be prohibited from accepting credit card funded betting, including via e-wallets, buy now pay later and vouchers.
“Debt funded gambling is never okay. This is a sensible way to reduce some harm. We thank the Committee, led by Andrew Wallace, for championing this cause,” said Lauren Levin, FCA’s Director of Policy and Campaigns.
“The next step is for the Parliament to introduce legislation. We urge the government and all MPs to make this a priority,” Ms Levin said.
According to the Illion Accenture spend tracker online, gambling in Australia has increased dramatically over the pandemic. From a base line index of 100 in January 2020, before the pandemic, in November 2021, the index is now nearly four times higher at 384. This increase is showing up in financial counselling casework.
“Financial counsellors see a lot of harm from credit-fuelled gambling. In addition to losing savings and wages, most clients of financial counsellors have credit card debts and payday loans with crippling interest payments,” Ms Levin said.
“While Australians have not been able to use a credit card to fund gambling at in-person venues like casinos for a long time, the fact that it was still happening online was a loophole in the legislation,” said Gerard Brody, CEO of Consumer Action Law Centre.
Financial Counselling Australia, Consumer Action Law Centre and Financial Rights Legal Centre made a joint submission to the inquiry, which opened in March this year, calling for the prohibition on the use of credit cards and e-wallets for digital gambling.
The submission includes many case studies, which show how the use of credit to gamble online has devastating consequences on people, families, and the broader community.
“Consumer advocates have been working to prevent credit funded gambling online for many years. Going into an election, we urge all parties to consider their commitments to reducing gambling harm,” said Karen Cox, CEO of Financial Rights Legal Centre.
Australia has the highest per capita gambling losses in the world, which have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Responsible Wagering Australia and the Australian Banking Association have both publicly supported the prohibition of credit cards as a payment method for online gambling.