Minister Rishworth on FIVEaa with Graeme Goodings


Topic: Legislation to ban credit cards for online gambling

GRAEME GOODINGS, HOST: Gambling. It can be a bit of fun for those that know how to control it and who can afford it, of course, but sadly, there are many people who become addicted to gambling and get themselves into huge debt. And it's particularly concerning when people are gambling, wagering with money that they don't have, basically using credit cards. Well, the Federal Government is taking steps to protect the vulnerable. Social Services Minister Amanda Rishworth joins me now. Minister, good morning to you. Thanks for being with us.


GRAEME GOODINGS: Is this credit card move aimed at online gambling?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: At the moment there's pretty strict laws to stop you from using credit cards and other lines of credit for land-based gambling. That's your pokies and other gambling that is land based, but there's been no restrictions whatsoever for online wagering. So that's when you might bet on a sports game, something like that. We actually introduced legislation into the Parliament today that will see a ban on using, for example, credit cards on online wagering to bring it in line with land based gambling. Because, as you mentioned, people should not be betting with money they don't actually have. And what we know is about 15 to 20 per cent of people wager with credit cards and they are more likely to experience gambling harm. So, this is one of the really important measures that we need to take to actually make sure that we're reducing gambling harm in the community.

GRAEME GOODINGS: As we've seen, when dealing with companies, businesses and so forth on the internet, it's very hard because they could be based in another country and getting our rules and regulations to impact on them. So, how can we control because largely these companies, these gambling companies, betting companies, are from overseas. How can we control the gambling from this part of the world?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: These companies are required to adhere to Australian law and what we put in this legislation is that for companies that don't adhere to this ban, they will face fines here in Australia of up to $234,000 and that will be enforced by our regulatory authorities. We do have regulatory authorities that can track some of these companies down and also a number of them are international companies, but actually have to be licenced here in Australia, so they are subject to Australian law and it's really important that we have the fines to back it up. And that's what we've baked into this legislation. Companies will have six months from this legislation passing to implement all the software, communicate with their clients that they will no longer be able to use credit cards.

GRAEME GOODINGS: Credit cards is one thing, but online these days, there's digital currencies and crypto. Are you covering those as well?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We are covering those digital currencies as well. They will be covered as part of these changes and of course, that's part of harm minimisation. But of course, when it comes to gambling, online and land-based gambling, you've always got to put measures in place to ensure that anti-money laundering laws are adhered to. So, we are banning digital money, digital currency as well.

GRAEME GOODINGS: How quick will the bans come into force?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: We're hoping to get the legislation through the Parliament in the next sitting period. And then, as I said, companies will have six months to notify their customers. So, we certainly are very hopeful that by sometime next year, early next year, that we will see the banning of these credit cards.

GRAEME GOODINGS: What sort of feedback have you received? Because I can imagine some of these wagering organisations wouldn't be too happy.

AMANDA RISHWORTH: There's obviously a variety of views out there, but there was a recent survey that suggested 80 per cent of Australians support banning credit cards. There was a bipartisan committee report, it was handed down some time ago, and we've picked that up and started to act on that. So, I think there's wide community support. Obviously, with the transition phase, we've listened to industry to make sure that they have enough time to, for example, put the technology in place that will block the use of credit cards as opposed to debit cards. We've given them a period of phasing-in time and taken their concerns on board, but it hasn't deterred us from actually being clear about wanting to minimise harm when it comes to gambling.

GRAEME GOODINGS: So, when can we expect to see the change?

AMANDA RISHWORTH: Well, the legislation is in the Parliament, obviously, it's subject to passing the legislation and as soon as that legislation passes the Parliament, it will be enforced from six months from there. So, I'm hoping next year we will have all of this in place. Customers will be notified and, of course, the technology, which isn't too difficult technology will be in place.

GRAEME GOODINGS: Minister, it's a good move. Well done.