Laws to stop gambling on credit a ‘Swiss cheese’ of loopholes -
Young Australian’s racking up huge debt to gamble online in record numbers
13 Mar 2023
Laws to prohibit gambling on credit are a ‘Swiss cheese’ of loop holes and exceptions that are allowing too many Australians to drown in debt, offered at very high interest rates.
The problem is particularly acute among young people who are ruthlessly targeted by online gambling companies and who are more likely to revert to credit to continue to gamble. Evidence shows young men (18-24) are the most prolific online gamblers and online is the fastest growing form of gambling in Australia.
The Alliance for Gambling Reform chief executive, Carol Bennett, said past efforts to prohibit gambling on credit have been inadequate and clumsy and have, in part, relied on the industry to self-regulate.
“This is a merciless industry that cannot be trusted to protect people from falling into debt, they are more concerned with their profits than protecting people who are vulnerable to gambling harm,” Ms Bennett said.
The 2010 Australian Productivity Commission Report found those experiencing high levels of gambling harm were more than four times more likely to use credit cards to obtain cash advances for gambling than low-risk gamblers.
A policy paper released today by the Alliance on the use of credit for gambling has called for urgent action to close the loopholes and exceptions in our laws.
Currently in Australia, credit cards cannot be used when gambling in licensed venues, casinos or TAB outlets. However, this cannot be tracked when cash is used from credit accounts taken from ATMs.
Online gambling providers are restricted when it comes to offering credit to customers, although there are exceptions to this rule when it comes to on-course bookmakers with telephone based services.
“These loopholes and exceptions means people are falling into a pit of debt, our political leaders must move to protect people at risk of gambling harm, the industry will never do this because they are intent on boosting their fat profits,” Ms Bennett said.
The Alliance strongly supports the prohibition of gambling with credit including using credit cards, ‘buy now, pay later’ systems, digital or e-wallets and third-party payment mechanisms based on the principle that people should not be able to gamble with money they do not have.
The policy paper calls for larger fines when a bookmaker is found to have accepted payment via credit. It also wants no exceptions for on-course bookmakers or telephone betting services which fall under the Interactive Gambling Act.
The Alliance also recommends that this policy needs to be regulated by a sufficiently resourced, national, independent regulator which oversees the licenses of all online wagering bookmakers rather than the current model which is state based regulation. Most major bookmakers are regulated in the Northern Territory where there is no Point of Consumption tax, minimal fines and relatively small license fees.
Closing such loopholes would bring Australia into line with the UK and Germany that moved in 2021 to ban gambling with credit.
Carol Bennett is available for interview
Media contact: Nick Nguyen – 0433 988 257