Australia’s Online Gaming Market Forced To Cut Off Credit Cards

Consumers in Australia who like to wager online will soon have to find new ways to fund their accounts. Credit card purchases for online gambling are coming to an end through new legislation that will take hold across the country.

The Australian flag flies on top of the Australian Parliament House
The Australian flag flies on top of the Australian Parliament House. The government will soon restrict the use of credit cards in the online gaming ecosystem. (Image: Institute of Public Affairs)

In an announcement from April 28, the government confirmed that it’s working on regulations to outlaw the relationship between credit cards and online gaming. Through the use of Bank Identification Numbers (BIN), Australia will be able to prevent the purchases similarly to how it tries now with the land-based gambling segment.

Two government figures behind the initiative, Minister for Communications Michelle Rowland and Minister for Families and Social Services, Amanda Rishworth, will work out the details with the gaming industry. The measure will require intense and constant oversight; gaming operators like Crown Resorts have already proven they know how to sidestep regulations.

Increasing Consumer Control

The Australian Communications and Media Authority will receive extra authority to enforce the prohibition. They can establish payment systems to discover and restrict credit card transactions that online gaming operators try to process.

In following the standard playbook of gaming regulations, the new policy doesn’t apply to lotteries, like those various state governments offer. The justification is that lotteries aren’t as addictive, despite studies to the contrary.

The National Director of the Stop Predatory Gambling Organization in the US, Les Bernal, recently explained how addictive. In his research, he concluded that Americans would lose $500 billion in personal wealth on lottery products over the next eight years.

Similar results can be found in Australia. The Australian Institute of Family Studies indicates that lottery purchases rank first among gambling in the country. In total, consumers spent AUD174 billion (US$288.26 billion) gambling in Australia in 2020.

Rishworth stated that the Australian government is not against gambling as a whole, but rather opposed to individuals having to endure financial burdens resulting from their gambling habits. Rowland added that consumers shouldn’t be “betting with money they do not have.”

Independent politician Andrew Wilkie, who has advocated for gambling reform for a while, viewed the prohibition as a crucial step toward mitigating the negative impact of gambling. However, he was adamant that since the law had gained complete backing, there should be no dilution through prolonged discussion.

Gaming The System

For the new policies to be effective, gaming operators have to play by the rules, too. Crown and Star Entertainment already proved that gaming the system is a possibility.

Both fooled financial and casino regulators for years, manipulating hospitality receipts to allow Chinese VIPs to use credit cards to gamble. There is also evidence they forged bills for accommodations so high rollers could use plastic to purchase chips.

While that’s not a viable alternative for online gaming, there are ways to circumvent the controls. An operator could, for example, create a fake eCommerce website that accepts payments that are then funneled into online gaming accounts.

Another way is for a consumer to request a cash advance from the credit card provider. The funds then become available to use however the individual wants.

Those topics and more are likely to be included in the upcoming discussions about the new credit card blocks. There’s no exact deadline for the implementation of the rules, although they’ll be in place within a few short months.

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