Last year, the Australian Banking Association decided to do a study on how the community looks at gambling transactions. That data has now been released, and it may signal the end for online gambling transactions involving credit cards.

Known as “Every Customer Counts,” this report was comprised of responses from 813 people who answered a web survey. In addition, 40 consumer advocates, betting operators, gambling counsellors, government employees, and academics completed written submissions.

Based on the responses, the majority of participants viewed credit card-based gambling as undesirable. According to a line from the report, “the associated risks were considered to significantly outweigh any potential benefits for customers, especially for vulnerable populations.”

Survey Results

Assuming you don’t want to wade through a bunch of boring data, I’ve been nice enough to put it all together in an easy-to-read format. Just keep in mind that these are only the opinions of respondents, and they have no concrete bearing on future regulations.

  • 81% of participants favoured some modification to existing credit card gambling rules. Of these individuals, 54% favoured a complete ban on using credit cards for the purposes of gambling. The remaining 27% supported a daily limit on credit card expenditures for gambling.
  • While 81% favoured a ban or some other modification to existing rules, only 7% said that there should be no restrictions. The remaining 12% were unable to form a definitive opinion on the subject.
  • The survey found that credit card gambling was most significant among those in the 18 to 29 age demographic. Also, there was a substantial decline in such activity as people grew older.

What is the ABA Doing?

So what is the ABA doing about credit card gambling at the moment?

Logo for Australian Banking Association

Well, they put together the “Every Customer Counts” survey. Unfortunately, they also released the results on the last Friday before Christmas, which somewhat blunted its potential exposure. And let’s not forget about the absence of a press release.

The ABA is also unwilling to make a formal recommendation on the subject for fear of violating rules related to collusion. Ultimately, they said their membership (the banks) would be responsible for how to proceed.

In years past, their membership has been able to resist the call for a gambling-related credit card ban. However, ABA surveys have continually shown that more than 75% of Australians believe banks should protect customers from debt related to gambling on credit.

What are Banks Doing?

While the collective ABA appears to be dragging its feet, some of its individual members are more progressive. For example:

  • In October of 2020, Bank Australia announced that it would block “all gambling and gaming transactions” on their credit cards beginning on December 1st.
  • Macquarie Bank made a similar announcement in June of 2019.
  • Latitude Financial, American Express, Virgin Money, Suncorp, Citibank, and Bank of Queensland all prohibit credit card gambling.
  • If you’re a customer of CBA or Westpac bank, you can request gambling transactions to be blocked just by making a phone call.
  • NAB allows customers to turn on a gambling block (including cash advances) by using an app.

Unfortunately, the four largest banks have yet to fall into line. Customers of NAB, Westpac, CommBank, and ANZ can still get a cash advance for online gambling.

This is a bit unusual, considering that using credit cards at land-based Australian facilities have been banned since the early 2000s. Of course, Internet gambling has dramatically risen in recent years, with sites such as Ladbrokes and Sportsbet enjoying an increase in the range of 45% over the first half of 2020.

Additional Reading

For more articles on gambling, please see the following: