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The Lottery Corporation appeals for exemption from credit card ban

| By Marese O'Hagan
The Lottery Corporation has asked for an exemption to a potential ban on credit cards that could hit Australia, as outlined in the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2023.
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The request was made in a submission to the Standing Committee on Environment and Communications’ inquiry into the bill.

The submission was authored by Sue van der Merwe, managing director and CEO of The Lottery Corporation. She pressed the committee to support the latest recommendations for the bill. These recommendations maintain that lotteries should remain exempt from the ban.

Other Australian betting companies, including Tabcorp and Responsible Wagering Australia, have also made submissions. However, The Lottery Corporation’s submission is the only one that opposes the ban on credit cards.

The Lottery Corporation’s submission predominantly centred around what Van der Merwe calls the “low-harm nature” of lotteries.

“Despite very high participation, lotteries are associated with very low levels of gambling harm,” writes Van der Merwe. “This is mainly because they are infrequent, non-continuous and low spend. The game structure is not conducive to excessive or repetitive play.”

The submission continued by imploring policy response to recognise the “distinctive nature” of different types of gambling products. It added that a risk/harm-based approach should be adopted, with a lessening amount of intervention if risk is lower.

Focus on minimising harm

Van der Merwe said The Lottery Corporation would continue to minimise gambling harm that could be felt by players, a goal which she says is already part of its day-to-day operations.

She presented the company’s self-exclusion policy – where customers can exclude for 180 days minimum – and early intervention models as proof.

She also referred to the wider effects of The Lottery Corporation’s operations. The Lottery Corporation’s retail points of distribution, making up 62% of lotteries turnover, was presented as one example.

Van der Merwe also cited the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services’ previous inquiry into financial services, including credit cards, for online gambling (PJC Inquiry).

The committee report identified the potential harm associated with credit cards and online gambling, but stated that this does not apply to “using credit to purchase lottery tickets and scratchies”.

Van der Merwe ended the submission by importing the committee to uphold the current version of the bill.

“Given the low-harm profile of lotteries and that the PJC Inquiry, following the extensive consideration of the evidence presented, recommended that the credit card ban apply to online gambling (excluding lotteries), we urge the committee to support the bill as it currently stands,” she concluded.

The Australian government published the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2023 last month. If the bill comes into force, operators could be fined AU$234,750 (£120,462/€140,014/US$150,467) for not following the credit card ban.

The Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) would also receive further powers to enforce the new measures.

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