Banks View Proposed Australian Gambling Laws as Bad for Economy

Australian bankers join industry experts to tell the government that using national payments system to clamp down on gambling won’t work

Australian gambling laws - GamingZion

Online sportsbooks in Australia just gained a powerful ally in their fight against the proposed ‘reform’ of the country’s sports betting industry championed by the radical Senator Xenophon (read more in Bookmakers Demand Review of Australian Sports Gambling Laws article).

Quite unexpectedly, it was the Australian banking industry who’ve now expressed reservations about the proposed laws, basing their arguments against government intrusion on sound economics and not a hysterical ‘nanny state’ mentality.

The Australian Banker’s Association states that by using the national payments system to tighten the screws on online gambling, the government will open up a Pandora’s box of undesirable consequences detrimental to the Australian tax payer.

Visa, the 900 kilo gorilla of the credit card industry, is concerned about the consequences that the proposed Australian gambling laws will have on the overall economy. Visa is particularly nervous about the proposed provision which will block all credit card transactions to and from online gambling operators and believes that online shopping as a whole will suffer as an unintended side effect.

Australian Bankers’ Association CEO, Steven Munchenberg, described the plans to restrict financial transactions as “not straightforward”.

A special parliamentary committee is set to investigate the impact of Senator Nick Xenophon’s measure, which essentially will limit banking transactions at blacklisted online gambling sites.

Munchenberg told Australia gambling news: “[If] Australia was identified as a jurisdiction where payment obligations may not be fulfilled in a certain and timely manner, it is possible that merchants and online service providers will refuse to accept business and payments from customers designated as originating from Australia.”

He continued: “This would have a significant impact on the contestability of Australian businesses as well as the ability for Australian consumers to purchase online goods and services.”

Despite some restrictions already in place Australians are estimated to have spent over $968 million at foreign based online casinos, bingo and poker sites.

The parliamentary committee is headed by Andrew Wilkie, and is expected to publish a report for the eyes of the federal government by the end of November.

A member of the government’s advisory council on gambling industry, Professor Alex Blaszczynski, opined in his written submission that the Interactive Gambling Act was in dire need of reform and updating.

He said: “Australians can easily access offshore internet gambling sites, and have little recourse if they lose their money or experience unscrupulous treatment.”

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