Big banks recognising opportunity to reduce gambling harm - Alliance for Gambling Reform

Big banks recognising opportunity to reduce gambling harm

Big banks recognising opportunity to reduce gambling harm

5 December 2019

The Alliance for Gambling Reform has welcomed a community consultation by the Australian Banking Association (ABA) into banning the use of credit cards for gambling.

Alliance Chief Advocate, the Rev Tim Costello, said preventing people experiencing gambling harm from using credit to gamble was a fantastic harm minimisation tool to be offered by banks.

“It’s not a silver bullet, of course, but it can help prevent further harm for those experiencing problems with gambling, and is in step with the banks’ responsible lending obligations,” Rev Costello said.

“We applauded Macquarie Bank for leading the way on this in June this year, so it is great that the big banks are looking to go down the same path.

“We encourage as many people as possible to make submissions to this community consultation to ensure all the banks adopt this important gambling harm reduction measure.”

The ABA’s Consultation Paper on the move notes: “Access to credit for gambling can create a unique harm whereby large amounts of debt can be accumulated in a limited period with a chance that the user will in most cases receive no tangible benefit. For people with a gambling addiction, a credit card can lead to severe financial stress for the individual and their family.”

Rev Costello said the Royal Commission into the banks demonstrated there was a need for these measures to be introduced.

“David Harris told the Royal Commission how he was repeatedly offered credit card limit increases by the Commonwealth Bank even after disclosing to the bank that he was having problems with gambling,” Rev Costello said.

“Mr Harris won’t have been alone in experiencing this kind of exacerbation of his gambling harm by being offered credit when it was so clear that should not have been the case.

“Banks have access to sophisticated algorithms that can identify changes in spending habits and are in a position to be able to identify people experiencing gambling harm. Situations like Mr Harris’ should never have happened.”

Ahead of this potential ban on gambling transactions via credit cards, Rev Costello congratulated NAB for this week introducing a function to allow customers to self-exclude from gambling transactions on both their debit and credit cards.

“Our understanding is that NAB app users can now simply block gambling transactions from their accounts, meaning they can effectively self-exclude from gambling online without having to speak to anyone,” Rev Costello said. “In doing so, the app users are then presented with the details of gamblers help and other support services.

“The fact it then takes 48 hours to remove this block will help a lot of people if they are experiencing the urge to gamble again. This is a great move by NAB, and hopefully other banks will follow suit.”

Rev Costello said with the revelation this week that Australians lost close to $25 billion gambling in just one year it was evident that gambling harm was being experienced by a large number of people.

“Anything that we can do to minimise the number of people experiencing gambling harm in this country is a good thing,” Rev Costello said.

Media contact: Rebecca Thorpe on 0491 209 436 or rebecca@agr.org.au