Westpac increases interest rate on credit card payments for gambling

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Online gambling is a common activity, with the Health Promotion Agency reporting that in 2018, more than 520,000 (13%) people aged 15 and over participated in online gambling.

martin van beynen / stuff

Online gambling is a common activity, with the Health Promotion Agency reporting that in 2018, more than 520,000 (13%) people aged 15 and over participated in online gambling.

Westpac will charge higher interest on what it calls “cash-like” payments made by customers using its credit cards, including payments on Lotto, TAB and other online gambling accounts.

The bank charges 22.95% interest on “cash advances” on its Hotpoints Mastercard, and as of November 30, payments to gambling accounts or to purchase cryptocurrency will be considered cash advances. funds.

Ordinary purchases made on the standard Westpac Mastercard charge 20.95% interest, unless the cardholder clears their balance before the monthly payment date.

The move prompted the Problem Gambling Foundation to call for a planned review of gambling laws to consider following the UK Gambling Commission into banning credit card payments to gambling companies.

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LAWRENCE SMITH / Tips

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The British Gambling Commission said it imposed the ban after research identified a high proportion of problem gamblers who were using credit card debt to finance their addiction.

Problem Gambling Foundation spokesperson Andree Froude said people are gambling more online and “obviously credit cards give them a way to do it when they don’t really have the money.” .

“I think the decision to ban credit cards would be a good thing,” she said.

The Gambling Act was almost 20 years old and since it came into force in 2003 there have been huge technological changes, including the ability for people to gamble online at New Zealand and overseas gambling companies, said Froude.

The Home Office did a review of online gambling several years ago and expects the results to be released soon, along with regulatory options, she said.

A Westpac spokesperson said most “cash-like transactions are used to fund online gambling.”

Problem Gambling Foundation spokesperson Andree Froude wants Australian banks like Westpac to do more to help gambling addicts protect themselves.

Chris McKeen / Stuff

Problem Gambling Foundation spokesperson Andree Froude wants Australian banks like Westpac to do more to help gambling addicts protect themselves.

Customers could avoid paying interest by instead using their debit card for these types of transactions, she said.

Froude said Australian banks like Westpac should do more to help gambling addicts protect themselves.

Kiwibank announced in April that it would allow problem gamblers to put voluntary gambling blocks on their credit cards to prevent them from borrowing to gamble.

The block had been used by 127 customers, avoiding an average of $ 13,000 each year in gaming expenses, the bank said in its sustainability report.

Froude said the foundation has asked banks to come up with similar blocks.

Kiwibank's Hayley Beattie noticed a slight increase in online gambling damage during Covid lockdowns, which led to a program for Kiwibank customers to voluntarily block payments from their Visa credit and debit cards to gambling sites.

Provided

Kiwibank’s Hayley Beattie noticed a slight increase in online gambling damage during Covid lockdowns, which led to a program for Kiwibank customers to voluntarily block payments from their Visa credit and debit cards to gambling sites.

Westpac in Australia, Commonwealth Bank of Australia (owner of ASB) and National Australia Bank (owner of Bank of New Zealand) all offered voluntary Kiwibank-style gambling blocks, but their New Zealand subsidiaries did not. .

“We strongly encourage all banks to do this because it helps people,” Froude said. “It’s a tool, and a very good one.

Westpac said the move was aimed at creating more “consistency” for customers.

Other types of payments covered by the change include sending money overseas, buying cryptocurrency, and sending money to share investment platforms like Sharesies.

Sharesies co-managing director Leighton Roberts said few of his investors used credit cards to top up their accounts.

Kiwibank’s terms and conditions stated that cash transactions included the purchase of gambling tokens or foreign cash.

The definition of ANZ included the purchase of gift cards, prepaid cards, foreign currency, travelers checks, money transfers, wire transfers or gaming tokens, or topping up gaming accounts.

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