The Australian government has announced it will ban the use of credit cards for almost all online gambling activity.
The federal ministers for communications and social services said in a joint statement on Friday (April 28) that appropriate Bank Identification Numbers (BINs) will “identify and block credit card payments” for all wagering services, but not lottery products.
The method has been “successfully deployed” in land-based gaming outlets and in the United Kingdom’s crackdown on online wagering, it said.
“The legislated ban will be applied to Australian licensed wagering services and would bring online wagering into line with land‑based gambling, where credit cards cannot be used.”
Online lottery services will be exempt because they “present a low risk [of] gambling harm”, the statement said.
It added that the government will consult with stakeholders on technical matters related to implementation and will enhance the powers of the national gambling regulator, the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA), to enforce the ban.
A credit card ban in the online sector has been almost inevitable after receiving strong public support and backing from influential industry players, including the Australian Banking Association and lobby group Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA), which represents corporate bookmakers.
RWA reiterated in a statement on Thursday that it welcomed future restrictions and that gamblers “should only wager with their own funds”.
“Our members support a safe and responsible wagering industry that balances the enjoyment of its products with the need to protect the community,” it said.
“[RWA] has strongly advocated for an end to the ability of Australians to use credit cards as a deposit mechanism for wagering accounts for several years.”
The near-total credit card ban implements recommendations issued by a federal parliamentary committee in late 2021 under the previous conservative government, and follows implementation of credit card restrictions of more limited scope in the National Consumer Protection Framework for online gambling.
It is also the latest salvo in a wider tightening of gambling legislation and regulations in the world’s largest gambling jurisdiction by per capita spend.
Momentum for anti-gambling reform is continuing apace at federal and state levels following years of public and civic group backlash, increasingly hostile media coverage, and a clutch of high-powered investigations into land-based and online gambling operators, forcing once-feared gaming lobbyists and corporate external relations units to ditch pugnacious strategy.
A separate federal lower house committee examining the impacts of online gambling is set to issue recommendations on sports-betting advertising, sports team sponsorship by gaming companies, and other matters.