The warning was directed at the joint select committee on gambling reform – that is investigating a bill introduced by the independent Senator Nick Xenophon to restrict financial transactions on prohibited sites.
Worrying that any attempt to use the payments system to crack down on internet gambling could also interfere with online shopping, chief executive of the Australian Bankers’ Association, Steven Munchenberg, stated that doing so is ”not straightforward”.
In a report by the Sydney Morning Herald, Muchenberg said: ”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.”
Visa also backed up Muchenberg, and said: ”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.”
Online gambling is extremely popular in Australia, with an estimated $968 million spent on online casino, poker and bingo sites last year. The committee heard Australians could reach 92 per cent of the 2,443 online gambling sites even though the Interactive Gambling Act banned them from accepting money from Australian residents. And this may not be the only form of gambling Australians are banned from. Earlier in the month we reported that Aussie TV stations may be banned from airing live betting odds during sports broadcasts. Is the Aussie gov. going a little reform crazy?
A member of the federal government’s advisory council on gambling, Alex Blaszczynski, has told the committee the legislation needs to be updated. Regardless, a report on internet gambling will be released at the end of the month.