In a recent move, The Lottery Corporation formally requested an exemption from a potential credit card ban anticipated to hit Australia. This appeal is in response to the proposed changes highlighted in the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2023. Sue van der Merwe, the Managing Director and CEO of The Lottery Corporation, crafted the petition. It was presented to the Standing Committee on Environment and Communications as part of their ongoing inquiry into the bill.
While several Australian betting companies, including Tabcorp and Responsible Wagering Australia, have submitted their take on the bill, The Lottery Corporation is the lone voice opposing the credit card ban.
The central theme of The Lottery Corporation's submission revolves around what Van der Merwe labels the "low-harm nature" of lotteries. Drawing attention to the minimal adverse effects of lottery gambling, Van der Merwe stated,
Despite the high participation rates, lotteries correlate with extremely low levels of gambling harm. This is predominantly due to their sporadic nature, non-continuous play, and modest spend. Furthermore, the structure of lottery games is not designed to promote excessive or repetitive gameplay.
She urged policymakers to recognize the unique nature of different gambling products and adopt a risk/harm-based approach. The approach suggests that the degree of intervention should be inversely proportional to the risk, meaning lower-risk products should face fewer restrictions.
One of the significant highlights of the submission was The Lottery Corporation's commitment to minimizing gambling-related harm. Van der Merwe underscored this commitment by pointing out the company's self-exclusion policy, which allows customers to opt out for a minimum of 180 days, and its proactive early intervention models.
Moreover, the Managing Director emphasized the broader positive implications of The Lottery Corporation's operations. She highlighted how the company's retail points of distribution, which account for a staggering 62% of lottery turnover, contribute to its success.
To bolster her arguments, Van der Merwe referenced a past inquiry into financial services by the Parliamentary Joint Committee on Corporations and Financial Services. The committee had acknowledged the potential harms of credit cards in online gambling but clarified that these concerns don't extend to purchasing lottery tickets and scratch cards.
In concluding the submission, Van der Merwe passionately appealed to the committee to maintain the present version of the bill. She reiterated,
Considering the minimal harm associated with lotteries and the findings of the PJC Inquiry, which after thorough examination recommended excluding lotteries from the credit card ban, we earnestly request the committee to endorse the bill in its existing form.
The Australian government unveiled the Interactive Gambling Amendment Bill 2023 just last month. Operators who flout the credit card ban could incur fines up to AU$234,750 if enacted. The Australian Communications and the ACMA (Media Authority) are also set to acquire expanded powers to ensure strict compliance with the new regulations.