The representative for the biggest players in Australian online gambling says punters should be not be stopped from going into debt to bet.
- MP Andrew Wallace says the banks have a “social responsibility” to put a halt to credit card use in online betting
- The banking industry says it has no plans to change its policy on the use of credit cards despite raising the matter itself in 2019
- The head of a gambling lobby says online betting comes with greater safeguards than casinos or pokies
Responsible Wagering Australia chief executive Brent Jackson’s remarks follow a call for a crackdown on the use of credit cards in online gambling from Queensland MP Andrew Wallace.
The LNP Member for Fisher is pushing the country’s banks to create a voluntary code of conduct that would mean punters could only place online bets using their own money.
Mr Wallace said it was a “no-brainer”.
“We know that people pay 22 per cent or thereabouts in interest on their credit card balances — that’s a very dangerous mix,” he said.
“You can’t use a credit card to go into a TAB and gamble on the horses or the dogs, you can’t use a credit card at a casino, and you can’t use a credit card to gamble on the pokies.”
For almost 20 years, gamblers have been unable to use credit cards to access cash advances in casinos and poker machine lounges.
Suncorp and Macquarie have already voluntarily stopped allowing credit cards to be used on wagering apps, but the big four — Westpac, NAB, ANZ and Commonwealth Bank — have not followed suit.
‘The right to choose’
But Mr Jackson, whose lobby group represents the likes of Sportsbet, Bet365, Ladbrokes, Neds and others, said there was no reason to stop Australians from going into debt to gamble.
He said online gambling was “safer” than betting in a casino or at a poker machine because it was governed by strict legislation and companies could monitor gambling behaviour in real time.
“They do keep an eye out specifically for unusual behaviour and strange behavioural patterns and activity that is not considered normal and might be risky,” Mr Jackson said.
“We can take a number of interventions aside from banning them completely — we often contact customers directly as this is happening.”
Mr Jackson said it should be left up to punters to decide whether they used credit cards when gambling online.
“We think that consumers should have the right to choose and directly manage their betting preferences,” he said.
“What we’re not seeing is any evidence of a problem out there at all.
Strong support for restrictions
In late 2019, the Australian Banking Association (ABA) canvassed members and others as to whether banks should disallow the use of credit cards on gambling apps.
Its report found 81 per cent of Australians felt the practice should be restricted or banned.
Only 7 per cent supported no restrictions.
The ABA described gamblers as “vulnerable customers” on its website, but has decided against any kind of blanket policy citing fears it could fall foul of anti-competition laws.
But the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) said it had supported other voluntary codes of conduct with banks.
A spokeswoman said the ACCC could also grant an exemption to the law if there was a significant public benefit.
Late last year an Australian Gambling Research Centre survey of 2,000 people found one in three signed up for new online betting accounts.
The biggest growth market was comprised of people aged 18–34, who the centre found were gambling more and spending more.
Sportsbet’s profit jumped by 108 per cent between April and June last year during COVID-19 shutdowns, increasing from $96 million to $191m.
‘I would always find a way’
David McAnalen said he used to put money down on just about anything he could — “casino games, electronic gaming machines, pokies, scratch-its, lottos, raffles, horses, dogs”.
“I was betting on everything,” he said.
Mr McAnalen said whatever the barrier, he would overcome it to gamble.
“I would always find a way — I always did find a way,” he said.
Mr McAnalen said he was compelled to change after his parents and sisters told him they loved him, but that they could not have him in their lives if he continued to gamble.
Now a Relationships Australia counsellor, Mr McAnalen said he was no longer “triggered” by gambling — but neither was he entirely cured.
“It’s the first drink that does all the damage — it’s the first bet that would do all the damage and everything would come back,” Mr McAnalen said.
“I wake up in the morning and say: ‘There are a lot of things I can do today and one thing I’m choosing not to do today is gambling’.”
Focus on ‘social responsibility’ of banks
Associate professor Charles Livingstone from Monash University has been studying gambling habits for decades.
He agreed that online gambling had the potential to be safer, but did not think that was necessarily the case at the moment.
“They certainly could step in and stop people gambling,” Dr Livingstone said.
In case studies used in a Financial Counselling Australia study from 2015, members worked with people who had lost large sums of money betting online, including one gambler who amassed a $300,000 debt over a three-year period.
In 2019 an ABC investigation reported accusations that Bet365 was skewing its system to encourage losing gamblers while banning or restricting the winners.
This month, Oxford University research found that gambling increased the risk of death, in addition to being linked with addictive behaviour and financial problems.
The Oxford findings inspired Mr Wallace’s call for change here in Australia.
“They don’t want Mum or Dad to go out and blow the weekly wages at the track, or in this case online,” he said.
“Banks have a social responsibility to step in and say: ‘We’re not going to allow this to happen any further’.
“If they won’t introduce a voluntary code, I’ll be recommending to my Parliamentary colleagues that we force them to do it.
Thanks for dropping by and checking this news article involving Tasmanian news named “Online gambling lobby says ‘no problem’ with punting on credit as MP calls for crackdown”. This story was presented by MyLocalPages Australia as part of our Australian news services.
#Online #gambling #lobby #problem #punting #credit #calls #crackdown