Posted on: December 6, 2023, 07:43h.
Last updated on: December 6, 2023, 07:43h.
In a move the Australian gaming industry has been watching come closer for the better part of the year, online operators will soon have to stop accepting credit cards and digital currencies. The country’s Senate has given its approval to a bill that quickly made its way through the ranks.
Australian Senate lawmakers gave the nod today to the groundbreaking legislation. The approved bill represents an amendment to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001, squarely targeting the ability of consumers to utilize credit cards or digital currency for any online gambling and betting activities.
The discussion about the ban has been open for the past few years. Lobbyists like Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA) have been working their angles to convince lawmakers to join the cause, and those efforts finally paid off this year.
Say No To Plastic
The House of Representatives greenlit the measure last month, and today, the Senate solidified its acceptance during its third reading. The new law is a significant step towards aligning online gambling regulations with those governing land-based gambling, where the use of credit cards by consumers is already prohibited.
Major players in the casino industry, including Stars Entertainment and Crown Resorts, had previously found ways to maneuver around existing controls for the use of credit cards in land-based gambling. The new legislation, however, is poised to tighten the reins and bring uniformity across both online and offline gambling activities.
Effective the day after the conclusion of a six-month period from the Act’s Royal Assent, the legislation carries weighty penalties for operators that violate the law. A substantial fine of up to AUD234,750 (US$154,282) is stipulated for those breaching the newly imposed credit card ban.
The enforcement of the legislation falls under the purview of the Australian Communications and Media Authority. It has the authority the power to issue fines to any entities found to be in violation of the credit card prohibition.
Not A Blanket Ban
The move is seen as a proactive step by Australian lawmakers to enhance consumer protection and foster responsible gambling practices. However, they don’t take it too seriously, as the ban doesn’t cover lottery and keno purchases.
That could change down the road. RWA, which counts among its members bet365, PointsBet and others, will likely try to tackle those two next. The trade body hinted at that after the Senate published its approval of the ban. RWA CEO Kai Cantwell believes that the prohibition goes a long way, but it doesn’t go far enough.
The organization wants the ban to become a permanent fixture of Australia’s BetStop, a self-exclusion register for gamblers. Cantwell pointed out that consumers who have signed up with BetStop are still able to spend thousands of dollars playing the lottery or keno.
It’s not too surprising that the government would omit the two. The Australian Institute of Family Studies reported earlier this year that lotteries have the highest participation, at 64%. This makes them more popular than sports betting, at 34%, and slots, at 33%.