Aussies Debate Gambling With Credit And Banknotes

Should the government or financial institutions be able to dictate how people pay for playing pokies?

The debates about gambling throughout Australia continue to heat up. The overall question about how free societies put limits on gambling is at the heart of the matter, but states, territories, and even banks are making decisions that impact Aussies and their rights.

South Australia Government And Banknotes

Several months ago, South Australian lawmakers decided to include a controversial measure in their list of proposed gambling reforms. They wanted the SA State Parliament to consider allowing gamblers to use banknotes in pokies instead of just coins.

Attorney General Vickie Chapman said the measure would put South Australia in line with other states and with New Zealand. It would also allow the pokies to be more technologically advanced.

Opponents of the measure pointed to massive donations to lawmakers from the Australian Hotels Association (AHA), a group that wants people to be able to more easily pay to play the pokies. The AHA did admit that it would help grow their businesses.

SA Citizens Speak

Just last week, the Australia Institute released the results of a public survey and study that showed an overwhelming opposition to banknotes in pokies.

Researchers conducted the survey of 503 South Australians from November 1-13 this year.

The most significant result was that 80% — four in five – of South Australians believe that allowing players to use banknotes in machines would increase the likelihood of gambling addiction and the level of gambling harm overall.

An even higher number of 82% said that they want pokies to accept coins only or even for the machines to be banned altogether. (An even number – 41% — wanted coins only, and the other half wanted a complete ban on pokies.)

These results were consistent across genders, age groups, economic status and incomes, and voting party affiliation.

Australia Institute SA Director Noah Schultz-Byard said the opposition to the proposed governmental reform is clear and strong. “South Australians are overwhelmingly convinced that these reforms will have a negative effect on the community,” he said. “Only 13% of South Australians support the government’s plan while more than 40% want to see poker machines banned outright.”

ABA Considers Gambling Use of Credit Cards

Throughout 2019, Australian financial institutions have been mulling the use of credit cards for gambling. Macquarie became the first to do it this summer in a new policy effective July 1, 2019.

Macquarie decided to block all credit card transactions registered with gambling or lottery merchant codes. And in addition, the bank capped cash advance balances at $1,000, effective at the end of August.

The bank made the decision to be proactive in “helping our customers manage their finances effectively and avoid problematic credit card debt.” He added that these goals are in line with the company’s overall commitment to the financial well-being of its customers.

Other financial institutions began to consider similar moves but looked to the Australian Banking Association for guidance. That prompted the ABA to put together a consultation paper and find out what customers and the public at large want to see.

Submissions Welcome Through March 4

The ABA released the consultation paper on December 5, the purpose of which is to seek views from the public about credit card use with regard to gambling.

ABA CEO Anna Bligh said that banks want to take their role in minimizing gambling harm seriously but want to do so in conjunction with public support. “As an industry,” she said, “we are currently assessing a number of options to help tackle problem gambling. We are seeking feedback across the community on a number of important questions, which will then help banks as they consider further reform on this issue.”

The questions on the consultation document are as follows:

  • What are the risks and concerns associated with gambling with credit cards?
  • Should the use of credit cards for gambling be restricted or prohibited?
  • If so, should the restriction or prohibition apply to all forms of gambling?
  • What are the potential consequences of prohibiting or restricting the use of credit cards for gambling?
  • Should there be a transition period if banks choose to implement changes relating to credit cards?

Submissions will be accepted through the end of the day on March 4, 2020.

As It Stands Today

The current state of regulatory requirements allows credit card use for some forms of gambling and not for others.

  • Online and betting apps = yes
  • Poker machines in clubs and licensed venues = no
  • Casinos = no
  • High roller rooms in casinos = no
  • Horse racing and greyhound racing tracks = no
  • Lottery tickets online and otherwise = yes
  • TAB outlets = no

Survey results will be used to decide if the ABA should take a stance on all forms of gambling with relation to credit card use.

Rose Varrelli avatar
Rose Varrelli
Senior Casino & News Writer

Hi there! I’m Rose, and with nine years behind me in the iGaming industry, I craft engaging narratives at CasinoAus. My education in Communication across Europe has sharpened my skills in fintech, casino legislation, and digital marketing. Backed by a strong foundation in SEO, storytelling, and cross-cultural communication, I’m passionate about creating content that resonates globally and educates our audience.

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