Transcript: ABC Radio National, AM

26 November 2016

The Hon Alan Tudge MP

Minister for Human Services
Gambling National Consumer Protection Framework

The Federal Government has reached an agreement with state and territory ministers to establish a National Consumer Protection Framework for online gambling.

Under the deal, lines of credit for online betting will be banned and a national self-exclusion register will be set up.

Lindy Kerin has the story.

Online gambling is a booming industry, with around 800,000 wagering accounts across Australia.

The Federal Human Services Minister, Alan Tudge, says some people are getting into trouble and need protection.

In the online environment the incidences of problem gambling are three times higher than they are elsewhere.

We also know that the online gambling is growing by 15 per cent per annum. So at this rate, with those statistics, the real problems of the future are going to come from this space, unless we do something sensible to put in protective measures.

A review of illegal offshore wagering last year recommended a national approach to gambling policy.

At a meeting in Melbourne yesterday, state and territory gambling ministers agreed to 11 strategies to minimise harm: among them, a self-exclusion register and a ban on lines of credit from wagering providers.

So at the moment, in some jurisdictions, the online gambling companies can actually offer a line of credit to their customers when the customers run out of money.

Now, we feel as if there is a complete conflict of interest between a gambling company both being a provider of gambling services and, effectively, a bank giving a line of credit to continue using their services using credit.

Now, I had a constituent in my electorate a few years back now who was an unemployed chap who was given $80,000 in credit by one of the online bookmakers.

And this guy couldn't pay it back. The gambling company then went and bankrupted him and was about to seize his and his widowed mother's house as a result of this.

So we think that this shouldn't be allowed.

Lauren Levin from Financial Counselling Australia has welcomed the agreement.

The ban on credit is absolutely huge. And having a pre-commitment scheme - even though it's a voluntary pre-commitment and we would have liked a compulsory one - what they've done is: they've made it an opt-out one.

So the default is that you do the pre-commitment. That's really important.

Is there anything missing in this agreement?

The ban on credit: what I believe they've done is that they're banning gambling companies from providing credit. And that's really significant.

But we know that people also get credit from a couple of other sources. One of the big ones is: you can pay for your Sportsbet or your Ladbrokes or whatever your online gambling company is, using your credit card.

And we see people with really huge credit card debts and a lot of people end up going bankrupt.

So credit is credit, whether it comes from a gambling company or whether it comes from a bank. And the principle is that gambling with credit is just not responsible, regardless of who's providing it.

So we'd like the banks to do the right thing and stop allowing credit cards to be used for gambling.

That's Lauren Levin from Financial Counselling Australia, speaking to Lindy Kerin.