The government announced a bill proposing a ban on credit cards for online gambling will likely be submitted to parliament later this year.
Prohibiting credit cards was one of the major recommendations of a parliamentary enquiry in 2021 into the use of financial service for online gambling.
There will likely be an exception for lottery tickets, including those run by charities, since they present a lower risk for gambling harm.
Specifics of the ban will be decided in consultation with stakeholders, so it's currently unclear whether there will be steps to prevent punters from simply using credit cards for cash advances instead.
In submissions to the 2021 enquiry, Responsible Wagering Australia estimated that around 20% of deposits into gambling accounts are currently transacted through credit cards.
Those that make up Responsible Wagering Australia include large bookmakers Sportsbet, Ladbrokes, and Bet365, which all pledged to ban credit card use in August 2021.
Gamblers are already not allowed to use credit cards for in-person betting such as at casinos, and Minister for Social Services Amanda Rishworth called online wagering following suit a 'positive step', and implied further restrictions to gambling in Australia could be on the way.
"Minimising [gambling] harm is not a set and forget exercise," Ms Rishworth said.
Australia is the gambling capital of the world, with the average Aussie losing $1,277 a year.
The move seems to be in line with public opinion, with 77% of Aussies saying there are currently too many opportunities for gambling according to the Australian Institute of Family Studies (AIFS).
Credit cards: Money that's not yours that attracts interest
The parliamentary report found that the use of credit cards can magnify the scale of financial hardship for problem gamblers.
It includes comments from Dr Charles Livingstone of the Public Health Association of Australia, who said that gamblers who use credit are at a serious risk of increased harm.
Dr Livingstone says the available data indicates "well over 40% or 50% of those who use credit cards regularly for their gambling are experiencing severe harm."
The enquiry found the combination of credit and gambling online is potent because of how quick and easy it is to lose money.
"The speed of losses with online gambling is different to the pokies," Financial Counselling Australia (FCA) said in its submissions.
"The online cohort are losing so much more money in a very short period. Some clients tell us it doesn't seem like real money until it has all gone."
Credit compounds this spot as problem gamblers burn through their savings quickly, and turn to borrowing to continue punting.
FCA has welcomed the news that the recommendations of the report will be implemented, saying financial counsellors see many clients where credit cards have been used to finance gambling.
Lauren Levin, FCA Director of Policy and Campaigns, says the government should reconsider excluding lotteries from the ban.
"Credit and gambling do not go together, even if a percentage of the amount gambled ends up funding a good cause," Ms Levin said.
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