Australia bans credit cards, cryptocurrencies for online gambling to combat financial risks 

Jenny Ortiz 1 month ago
Australia bans credit cards, cryptocurrencies for online gambling to combat financial risks 

Australians are now prohibited from using credit cards and digital currencies for online betting, a move by the government aimed at preventing individuals from gambling with money they do not possess. The new restrictions encompass credit cards linked to digital wallets, cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin, and other emerging forms of credit. This regulation aligns online betting rules with those for land-based gambling, although online lotteries remain unaffected and still permit credit card payments. 

Responsible Wagering Australia’s chief executive, Kai Cantwell, has advocated for the ban to extend to these exempt forms of gambling. “This is an important measure to protect customers, making it easier for people to stay in control of their own gambling behaviour,” Cantwell stated. He emphasised that inconsistent consumer protection measures across various gambling forms could drive vulnerable Australians to less-regulated types, increasing their risk of harm. 

Transition period and enforcement 

The industry has been granted a six-month transition period to comply with the new rules, which took full effect on Tuesday. Companies failing to adhere to the ban may face fines of up to AUD234,750 (€144,441). To ensure compliance, the communications watchdog has been granted expanded enforcement powers. 

The federal government is also considering a gradual phase-out of gambling advertisements over three years, a recommendation from a parliamentary inquiry on problem gambling. Communications Minister Michelle Rowland affirmed the government’s commitment to further preventive measures, stating, “Australians should not be gambling with money they do not have. This ban builds on the significant progress to minimise gambling harm that the Albanese Government has made over the past two years, which is already benefiting thousands of vulnerable Australians.” 

Additional reforms 

Recent reforms include a betting self-exclusion register, which has already seen participation from 22,000 individuals. Additionally, starting in September, computer games featuring gambling-like content will be classified as R18+, while those with in-game purchases will be rated M. These measures are part of a broader initiative to curb gambling-related harm and reshape the cultural perception of gambling in Australia

Online lotteries remain unaffected 

Despite the sweeping changes, online lotteries are currently exempt from the credit card ban, a loophole that some argue needs to be addressed to ensure comprehensive consumer protection. As highlighted by The Canberra Times and Crypto News Australia, this regulatory gap might incentivise gamblers to shift to online lotteries, undermining the overall intent of the reforms. 

Upcoming SiGMA event: SiGMA East Europe 2024, 2 – 4 September. Find all the details here. 

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