Australia Implements Ban on Credit Card and Digital Currency Betting

In a significant move to combat gambling addiction and financial harm, the Australian government has imposed a ban on the use of credit cards and digital currencies for online betting. This new regulation, which came into full effect on Tuesday, aims to align online betting rules with those governing land-based gambling, preventing Australians from gambling with money they do not have.

Scope of the Ban

The comprehensive ban extends to credit cards linked to digital wallets, cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, and any other emerging forms of credit. However, it notably excludes online lotteries, which still permit credit card payments. This disparity has prompted calls for further regulatory consistency across all forms of gambling.

Industry Response

Kai Cantwell, Chief Executive of Responsible Wagering Australia, has voiced support for the measure but urged the government to consider extending the ban to include online lotteries. “This is an important measure to protect customers, making it easier for people to stay in control of their own gambling behaviour,” Cantwell said. He cautioned that without uniform consumer protection measures, vulnerable Australians might gravitate towards less-regulated gambling forms, increasing their risk of harm.

Enforcement and Compliance

The industry was given a six-month transition period to adapt to the new rules. Companies that fail to comply with the ban now face hefty fines of up to $234,750. The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has also been granted expanded powers to enforce these restrictions, ensuring that the new regulations are effectively implemented.

Future Regulations and Government Stance

Communications Minister Michelle Rowland emphasised the government’s commitment to minimising gambling harm, stating that further announcements on gambling prevention are forthcoming. “Australians should not be gambling with money they do not have,” Rowland said. She highlighted that this ban builds on significant reforms introduced by the Albanese Government over the past two years, which have already benefited thousands of vulnerable Australians.

Recent initiatives include the establishment of a betting self-exclusion register, which has seen participation from 22,000 individuals. Additionally, starting in September, computer games with gambling-like content will be required to carry a mandatory minimum classification of R18+, while those featuring in-game purchases will be classified as M.

Implications for the Gambling Industry

This regulatory crackdown represents a broader effort by the Australian government to safeguard consumers from the dangers of gambling. By eliminating the use of borrowed money for online betting, the government aims to reduce the financial strain on individuals who may be susceptible to gambling addiction.

As these new measures take hold, the industry will need to adapt quickly to ensure compliance. The expanded enforcement powers granted to ACMA underscore the government’s determination to create a safer gambling environment. These changes are expected to have a significant impact on how operators conduct their business, pushing them towards more responsible practices.

Australia’s ban on using credit cards and digital currencies for online betting marks a crucial step in protecting consumers and promoting responsible gambling. By aligning online and land-based gambling regulations, the government seeks to create a more consistent and secure gambling landscape. As additional reforms and announcements are anticipated, the focus remains on minimising harm and supporting vulnerable individuals in the community.