The Australian Senate on Wednesday approved a new law that prohibits the use of credit cards and digital currencies as payment methods for online gambling in the country. The measure can now come into force subject to an agreed transition period.
The Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023 was first introduced into the House of Representatives in September of this year, where it was approved just two months later. Now, the amendment to the Interactive Gambling Act 2001 has also been passed by the Senate, clearing the way for it to become law. To cushion the blow to the local online gambling industry, a six-month transition period has been built in that activates on the day the Bill receives the Royal Assent.
The law, which follows similar measures put into place in countries like the UK, flies into the face of the current popularity of crypto currencies but has been a long time in the making. Back in early 2021, one MP was already claiming Australian banks were in favor of the measure and over time, this support has extended through the ranks of government, leading to the passing of the amendment in the Senate this week.
Once the grace period has passed, enforcement will fall under the Australian Communications and Media Authority who will be able to dish out severe penalties of up to AU$ 234,750 for breaches. The initiative is seen as a proactive measure by Australian lawmakers aimed at bolstering consumer protection and promoting responsible gambling practices. However, there is a notable exception, as the ban does not extend to cover lottery and keno purchases. These products could follow at a later date.
One lobbying group that welcomes the passing of the new Bill is Responsible Wagering Australia (RWA). In a media statement released following the Senate approval, RWA CEO Kai Cantwell called the change “much needed” and stated that “Australians should only be gambling with money that they have”. He also expressed disappointment that lotto and keno had been excluded from the Bill, stating that lotteries are the most prevalent form of gambling in Australia. According to Australian Gambling Statistics presented by the group, Australians lost most than AU$3.2 billion on lotteries and keno in 2020-21 alone.