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Wednesday, 13 September 2023
Page: 12

Ms ROWLAND (GreenwayMinister for Communications) (09:25): I move:

That this bill be now read a second time.

The Interactive Gambling Amendment (Credit and Other Measures) Bill 2023 (the bill) will amend the Interactive Gambling Act 2001(the act) to ban the use of credit cards and credit related products for online wagering—to create a safer environment for Australians at risk of gambling harm.

In April 2023, the government committed to introduce legislation to ban the use of credit cards for online wagering by the end of this year. This bill delivers on this promise.

Australia has the highest gambling losses per adult, with a total of $25 billion in losses per annum. Online gambling is growing in Australia due to easier and faster access through mobile devices and a proliferation of online gambling applications.

A ban on the use of credit cards and credit related products for online wagering will have the immediate and effective impact of stopping people from gambling with money they do not have.

There is clear support for a ban on the use of credit for online wagering. Research released by the banking peak body, the Australian Banking Association, has found that over 80 per cent of Australians believe gambling with credit cards should be restricted or banned. This bill will mean you can't use credit for online wagering—which is consistent with land based gambling regulations which ban the use of credit in TAB outlets, casinos and poker machine venues.

The bill will prohibit the use of credit cards for Australian licensed interactive wagering services, and the use of credit cards linked to a digital wallet or e-wallet such as Apple Pay and Google Pay.

The bill will also prohibit the use of digital currencies as a payment method for interactive wagering services. This mitigates the risk that individuals could purchase cryptocurrency using a credit card and then use these funds to bet online. As a way of 'future proofing' these protections, the bill will allow the responsible minister by legislative instrument to proscribe new credit payment products that might be used to circumvent the ban as they emerge.

The bill will also expand the Australian Communications and Media Authority's compliance and enforcement powers by providing ACMA with the ability to receive enforceable undertakings and issue remedial directions in respect of the civil penalty provisions under the act. This provides ACMA with the means to enforce undertakings—for example, when an entity commits to appoint an independent auditor to review its systems and procedures—and provide recommendations for improvement.

Penalties of up to $234,750 may apply for any breach of the new provisions.

There will be a six-month transition period from the date of royal assent to give industry time to change business practices and for people to change their betting behaviour.

The bill implements recommendations from the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services from November 2021, which called on the government to ban online gambling service providers from accepting payment by credit cards, including digital wallets.

Consistent with the inquiry's recommendations, which found that lotteries present a lower risk of gambling harm, the bill does not apply to lotteries, including the activities of not-for-profits, charities and newsagents.

The bill requires a review after two years from commencement to assess the effectiveness of the new provisions. A report of the review must be tabled in both houses of the parliament.

Consultation on this bill was undertaken with a wide range of stakeholders, including harm-reduction advocates, wagering and lottery providers, and banking and payment organisations. I would like to take the opportunity to thank these stakeholders for their contributions and support for this bill.

This bill aligns with the government's broader commitment to minimising gambling harms.

The government recently launched BetStop—the National Self-exclusion Register for online wagering, which allows people to self-exclude from all telephone and online gambling for three months up to a lifetime. The register is the final measure of the National Consumer Protection Framework for online wagering. Other measures recently implemented include:

since March 2023—the introduction of seven new evidence-based advertising taglines to replace the old 'gamble responsibly' wording;

a requirement for monthly activity statements to provide consumers with meaningful statements of their online wagering activity; and

introducing nationwide staff training to give staff tools to assist a consumer when they are identified as potentially experiencing harm from gambling.

We are also working with state and territory governments to update the classification rules for online and video games to protect children from exposure to simulated gambling.

The government is currently considering the comprehensive recommendations handed down by the House of Representatives Standing Committee on Social Policy and Legal Affairs inquiry into online gambling and its impacts on those experiencing gambling harm.

We look forward to working with stakeholders to inform the government response to these recommendations and implement further actions to reduce gambling harms in Australia. I commend the bill.

Debate adjourned.