Australian gambling giant Tabcorp has become the first to publicly remark that they won’t oppose any ban on Australian’s betting with their credit card, as long as newsagents can still sell lottery tickets.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Tabcorp said the switch towards betting during the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about the need for greater government intervention to protect vulnerable Aussies.

Parliament is considering an overhaul of its gambling laws to ban punters using credit cards or digital wallets from online gambling in Australia.

The change would bring internet betting in line with laws that govern casinos, TAB outlets and gaming lounges and ban cash advances from nearby ATMs.

In a submission to a parliamentary inquiry, Tabcorp has proposed the Commonwealth take responsibility for gambling regulation through the establishment of a single national wagering regulator.

The licensing and regulation of wagering has historically been the responsibility of the state and territory governments.

Many overseas-owned and online-only gambling companies are licensed in the Northern Territory, but in recent years have agreed to pay more than $1 billion to the states in point-of-consumption taxes and product fees.

Peak online bookies body opposes credit card gambling ban

 Responsible Wagering Australia, the peak body representing foreign-owned bookmakers including bet365, Betfair, Ladbrokes and Sportsbet, has opposed the ban, saying there is no compelling evidence to indicate a direct link between the use of credit cards on online betting platforms and the incidence of problem gambling.

Tabcorp said a national harmonisation of gambling regulations would be of greater benefit than just a credit card ban and would ensure integrity and consistency in the application and enforcement of laws.

It would include a central point of licensing and regulation of online gambling companies to ensure adequate consumer protection.

Tabcorp, whose wagering arm has lost ground to online rivals including Sportsbet and Ladbrokes in the past 12 months, said the forced shutdown of its retail venues during COVID-19 accelerated many of its changes.

“Customers who traditionally place cash bets in the supervised environment of a retail venue have opened online gambling accounts to continue enjoying a bet on races and sport,” Tabcorp said.

“Some of these customers who have transitioned to online betting will not come back to place bets in retail venues.”

A recent survey by the Australian Gambling Research Centre found that before COVID-19, 62 per cent of participants in gambling was conducted online, which grew to 78 per cent during the pandemic.

Tabcorp hopes lottery purchases won’t be altered

Tabcorp warned there would be unintended consequences for customers, the racing industry and lottery and newsagents in using technology to ban credit purchases.

It said the industry would need a year-long transition period should a ban be implemented.

“Over 40 per cent of lottery customers use credit cards for convenience and often purchase lottery products as a lifestyle choice in a bundle with other everyday lifestyle consumer products like magazines, birthday cards and milk,” it said.

Liberal MP Andrew Wallace has led the push for a ban on gamblers using credit cards online, telling Parliament they faced high interest rates and a high chance of loss that was deeply problematic for families.

“The states and territories have all banned the use of credit cards from places like TABs, from poker machines, casinos and RSLs. There’s one place you can still use your credit card to gamble and that’s on the internet. We as the Commonwealth Government control that space and we need to do better than we are doing right now.”

Banks including Citibank, Suncorp and Macquarie have all made the decision to ban credit cards for gambling, but the big four banks are still considering the proposition.