Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace has launched a campaign to encourage the big four Australian banks to introduce a voluntary code of conduct to ban the use of credit cards for online gambling. Picture: Patrick Woods
Federal Member for Fisher Andrew Wallace has launched a campaign to encourage the big four Australian banks to introduce a voluntary code of conduct to ban the use of credit cards for online gambling. Picture: Patrick Woods

Wallace takes online gambling fight to big four banks

Fisher MP Andrew Wallace is taking a fight to the big four banks over credit card gambling.

Mr Wallace mounted a campaign late last week to encourage Westpac, NAB, ANZ and Commonwealth banks to introduce a voluntary code of conduct to ban the use of credit cards for online gambling.

He said online gambling was a scourge to society.

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"You can't walk into a casino or TAB and use a credit card," Mr Wallace said.

"Why is it that banks can allow customers ability to use credit cards?"

He said Australians were the biggest gamblers on the internet.

"Some of the smaller banks will not allow it, yet the big four are all still doing it."

A report by the Australian Banking Association released in December last year showed that 81 per cent of Australians believed that gambling on credit cards should be restricted or banned.

However, Mr Wallace said the association stopped short of calling for banks to ban the use of credit cards for online gambling purposes.

Mr Wallace said online gambling caused "irreparable" harm to individuals and families.

"My preference is for the banks to do this voluntarily, but we may have to wave a stick at them," he said.

"I fought the good fight against the casino on the Coast and secured a commitment that they would not get a license.

"This needs to shake the tree of the major banks."

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The Sunshine Coast Daily put in questions to each bank asking whether they would consider Mr Wallace's proposal.

A spokeswoman for NAB said the company recognised problem gambling as a major challenge that required organisations, governments and the community to work together to address.

She said NAB customers had the option to block gambling transactions on debit and credit cards.

"Customers can block transactions via our app and more than 62,000 customers have switched on blocks across 86,000 cards," she said.

A spokesman for ANZ said the company introduced a restriction in December 2018 on the use of credit cards for gambling transactions where the customer's card had been utilised beyond 85 per cent of the account credit limit.

"Our restriction seeks to strike a balance between customers who wish to use their cards to pay for gambling and can do so without harm and those at risk of uncontrolled gambling where they no longer have funds for essentials," the ANZ spokesman said.

"We take into account a customer's gambling history when determining what products are appropriate for the customer and credit card applications may be declined where a customer's gambling exceeds a certain threshold."

He said ANZ was developing a self-service gambling block to provide customers with increased control over their own spending through their mobile application.

A Westpac spokeswoman said customers could choose to block their credit card for gambling purposes.

"This approach complements our existing hardship policy and the industry's self-exclusion policies," she said.

Commonwealth Bank declined to comment. Instead a spokeswoman directed the Daily to the Australian Banking Association.