Having a punt is a fun pastime for many Australians. Today more and more betting is being done online and via phone apps. Unfortunately for some people though, gambling becomes a problem. Estimates are that people who have a problem lose an average of $21,000 a year not to mention the negative impact it has on families, relationships and mental health.
Over the past couple of weeks, the Australian Government has introduced new measures to reduce problem gambling: banning betting advertising during sports games and preventing bookmakers from extending lines of credit to people gambling online.
So why is Bank Australia also thinking about problem gambling – and online gambling in particular?
We also provide people with lines of credit in the form of overdrafts and of course, credit cards. Under our existing Responsible Investment and Lending Policy, we do not lend to businesses generating revenue from gambling, including pokies and online gambling. However at the moment, our credit cards can be used for online gambling.
Some banks including CUA, AMEX, Bank of Queensland, Virgin Money, Citi and Suncorp have already prohibited the use of their credit cards for gambling purposes. To do this, they block payments to a list of merchants identified as gambling businesses. It applies to all customers with a credit card not only those who may be vulnerable to problem gambling.
So we’re asking ourselves whether it is a responsible course of action to restrict the use of Bank Australia credit cards, which will affect all customers but may help prevent vulnerable customers from going into debt when they are gambling online.
And because you own the bank, we want to know what you think to help us decide which direction we take.
Tell us what you think
If there is strong support for restricting the use of our credit cards, we will start a more in-depth investigation into how we make this happen. We will report back to you on the results of the survey and any proposed course of action in June.
If you or someone close to you is gambling and it is causing problems, help is available at www.gamblinghelponline.org.au (an initiative of all states and territories in partnership with the Federal Government).