Gambling Loans Banned in Major Crackdown By Ministers
Written on the 5 May 2017
Online gambling sites in Australia will no longer be able to offer lines of credit to customers under reforms being agreed to by ministers.
Human Services Minister Alan Tudge, chaired a ministerial meeting on problem gambling in Melbourne saying there was too much conflict of interest in gambling sites acting as both bookmakers and banks.
"I just think it's unconscionable for a company to provide lines of credit for them to continue to bet once they've emptied out their savings account and yet they're provided lines of credit," he told Sky News.
Mr Tudge said it had been a goal of his to ban lines of credit, forcing gamblers to use their own savings or credit cards, since a constituent was given $80,000 in credit by a bookmaker. The man lost it all over a weekend and the bookmaker tried to seize his house to recoup the money.
Federal and state governments will also work together to stop online bookmakers using free bets and other incentives to entice punters to keep gambling.
The major reforms to the $1.4 billion online gambling industry which were agreed upon last week also included a national self-exclusion register so gamblers can block themselves from betting with all bookmakers on their phones, tablets and computers, if they feel they have a gambling problem.
As well as this, online bookmakers will be forced to offer a voluntary pre-commitment scheme to all punters, so they can set their own betting limits.
Bookies will also be required to provide their customers regular activity statements detailing their wins and losses.
Corporate bookies offering credit are already banned in most Australian jurisdictions, but not in the Northern Territory where most online gambling companies are licenced. A representative for the NT minister did indicate that NT was broadly on board with the suite of changes.
World Vision Australian chief advocate Tim Costello says although the changes are welcome, they are merely cosmetic and more must be done to clamp down on advertising sports betting.
Mr Costello said banning 'immoral' bookie loans was long overdue, but voluntary self-exclusion was about as useful as voluntary brakes in a car.
On the other hand, Responsible Wagering Australia, which represents online bookmakers, welcomed the changes.
"We welcome Minister Tudge's announcements and are broadly supportive, and look forward to working with the minister on implementing these measures," said executive director Stephen Conroy.
Mr Tudge said that it had not yet been established if the States and Territories will themselves agree to legislate these changes or make it conditions of their licencing agreements or the Commonwealth Government will legislate to prohibit lines of credit. However, now that agreements have been made between the states, they'd like to move fast on implementing the changes, hopefully by the end of the year.
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