Largest Australian Bank Caps Credit Card Payments for Gambling

Hands holding plastic credit card and using laptop

ANZ is putting a cap on the amount of credit a person can use with a gambling platform because countless problem gamblers use credit to continue gambling.

Shayne Elliot, the chief of ANZ, said the goal is to remove some of the temptation to place bets. Speaking about this new cap before a royal commission on banking, he also said that ANZ is looking at ways to stop funding those involved in the tobacco sector.

Details of this move

The Australia and New Zealand Banking Group (ANZ), established in 1835, is the third largest bank in Australia. It also has operations in 24 other countries.

There have been numerous accusations against the bank recently, which is why Elliot was giving evidence to the commission. ANZ is facing accusations involving a litany of misconduct, such as breaking responsible lending laws and not treating their customers in a fair manner. The commission claims that ANZ is the worst among big banks at not sticking to certain banking laws.

Among other problems, there have also been five different instances of ANZ overcharging their customers with fees. This affected over 2 million accounts.

Under the new policy to help problem gambling, holders of credit cards cannot use more than 85% of their credit to make payments to online gambling platforms. Gamblers are already barred from using their credit cards at offline gaming facilities. Mobile gambling has been rising significantly in popularity in recent years, so more and more people are using credit cards for making deposits to these platforms.

Problem gambling in Australia

There is a significant gambling problem in Australia. The country leads world rankings of people who lose the most money gambling each year and by a large margin. The average adult in Australia loses $1,000 (£782) a year.

To put this into context, the second country in the rankings is Singapore, where the average adult loses about $650 (£508) each year. Based on the most recent figures, Australians gamble almost $24bn (£18.8bn) a year. About a third of all Australians place bets through the internet.

Gambling platforms usually have self-exclusion policies for problem gamblers. Such a policy allows those with gambling problems to block themselves from using these platforms.

However, these policies do not always work because some people don’t recognize that they have a problem with gambling. Therefore, they keep on making bets and depositing more and more funds to their accounts. This is where the cap on credit can help.

In March, David Harris, a problem gambler, spoke to the commission about his experience with these platforms. In the depths of his problem, he was begging the banks to stop increasing his credit limits because it was just adding fuel to the fire of his addiction.

ANZ new policy debut

The new ANZ policy will go into effect on December 3. The reason the bank chose the 85% cutoff to allow for social responsibility and autonomy for individuals.

Elliot said: “We want to always give people some ability and flex left in their cash flow for normal expenses. So we will put essentially a sublimit on a card. If I’ve got a $5000 limit in general – I am making this up here, but hypothetically, maybe I can only use $4000 [£3127]. Once I hit $4000, I could not use that product for gaming purposes beyond there. Things like that.”

The bank’s terms and conditions will now reflect these changes. This approach may become increasingly popular. With the shift over to online gambling being massive, it has never been easier to add funds to an account and start gambling. With a curb on credit cards, at least problem gamblers will have less money to gamble with.

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