The Australian House of Representatives has approved the Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023, which proposes a comprehensive ban on the use of credit cards for online gambling. Introduced in September, the bill also targets other credit-related products and digital currencies in an effort to protect vulnerable Australians from potential harm caused by online gambling.
Following a period of extensive debate for amendments, the bill has now passed in the lower house and is set to progress to the Senate for further discussion. Both major political parties in Australia, the Labor and Liberal Parties, have expressed support for the proposed legislation.
The government plans to implement a six-month transition period to allow operators, payment providers, and consumers to familiarize themselves with the new regulations. In addition to prohibiting credit card use for online wagering, the bill includes provisions for significant fines, reaching up to AU$234,750 ($149,722) for operators failing to comply with the ban.
The legislation aims to reinforce the government's commitment to consumer protection by curbing the potential negative impacts of online gambling. It is noteworthy that Australia already has a ban on using credit cards for gambling at land-based venues, and the new bill seeks to extend this restriction to cover all online gambling activities in the country.
Apart from the credit card ban, the bill also aims to empower the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to enforce civil penalty clauses, both new and existing, and issue penalties to those found in violation of the ban. The move aligns with the Australian government's broader efforts to safeguard consumers from gambling addiction, as evidenced by initiatives like the BetStop program, launched in August, allowing consumers to self-exclude from licensed interactive wagering service providers.
This legislative development follows in the footsteps of Great Britain, which implemented a ban on credit card gambling in 2020. Some Australian banks, such as Bank Australia, had already taken steps to prohibit credit card use for gambling as early as 2021. The recent bill underscores the government's ongoing commitment to consistent and robust consumer protection measures in the gambling sector.
By fLEXI tEAM