The Australian bank, Macquarie recently declared it is no longer allowing bank-issued credit cards for making gambling or lottery purchases. The great thing for responsible gamblers is there are still several options available. The changes began on the 1st of July, meaning any transactions classified under the merchant codes as gambling are blocked. Therefore, when the holder of the card tries to pay, it does not go through. The move arrives as a response to the increasing concern from regulatory bodies. There is also concern from the government about easy access to credit by people classified as problem gamblers. The financial institution is allegedly going to cap cash advance balances at $1000 from the end of August.
The perspective of financial institutions
The head of personal banking at Macquarie, Ben Perham, stated the firm wanted a proactive approach in assisting the clients in managing their finances. He tried to do so in an effective manner to avoid credit card debt. He claims the blocking of transactions for gambling or lottery merchant codes and capping cash advances are steps the firm is taking. It is to assist the customers in being financially responsible. Australian banks have been debating the issue for some time now. The federal government at one time stopped Australian gambling sites though the cards may still be utilized for overseas online gambling casinos.
The situation in the market
The move by Macquarie bank seems harsh, and a bit dystopian, but it is a good reason. There has been growing regulatory pressure in the gambling industry in Australia. The current statistics illustrate Australia is one of the world’s biggest gamblers. At the same time, concerns are increasing that a part of the country’s population is struggling with problem gambling. Unfortunately, these people still have easy access to credit, and so they present a tangible problem. The 2017 edition of the household, income, and labor dynamics survey in the country found there are 200,000 problem gamblers. The study also illustrates Australia represents one of the most significant gambling losses per head in the world. There is a 24 percent gap between it and Hong Kong, which comes in second. It is no wonder the banking institutions are concerned about the rate of the credit card used for gambling in the country.
Effects of the ban
The bank did admit despite the efforts; it is still hard to enforce a comprehensive ban on credit card use for gambling. For example, merchants, providing gambling services though the business is categorized under different codes will escape the net. Such scenarios can happen when the clients buy lottery tickets from newsagents whose terminals are not using gambling merchant codes. The bank also stated there is going to be some times where the bank is not able to block authorizations for lottery or gambling-related transactions. For example, the use of credit cards for non-gambling related services at the casino may attract cash advances. The bank does not have the means to restrict these loopholes for gambling, but it may shortly.
The move by Macquarie is probably one of the first in a trend within the Australian market. The market itself has gambling problems, hence the position of several companies on using credit cards to pay for bets. Problem gamblers are also a notable problem. The move from financial institutions is to increase the level of financial responsibility in gamblers. This is by removing abilities to make spontaneous purchases. Unfortunately, this does nothing to decrease gambling demand within the market, but it does take the bullets from their gun. Initiatives need to increase from the social sector to create awareness on problem gambling and assist the victims.
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