Credit Card Gambling Addiction: Australia’s ‘Big Four’ are Laughing all the Way to the Bank
Using your credit card to gamble online is easy, convenient… and incredibly addictive. Though the craps and blackjack tables in these virtual casinos aren’t real, the debt racking up with each click of your mouse is. Who are the real winners and losers?
While for some, gambling is just a bit of harmless fun, for others it can lead to insurmountable debt, destroyed relationships and a sense of utter hopelessness. Unfortunately, many of those who gamble well beyond their means fail to seek gambling addiction treatment until the problem has escalated far out of hand.
Australia has the highest rate of gambling participation in the world. With the exponential growth of online gambling, the use of credit cards in gambling is becoming increasingly common. We explore why this equates to big trouble for problem gamblers and big profits for the banks.
Gambling Profits for the ‘Big Four’ Banks
The Responsible Investment Association of Australasia (RIAA) and UCA Funds Management have begun a campaign against Australia’s ‘big four’ banks to stop them from allowing their clients to fuel their gambling addictions with their credit cards. These banks are being accused of social irresponsibility for standing idly by and profiting as their clients accumulate insurmountable debt.
Some banks agree that they have a duty to ensure that they’re not facilitating problem gambling among their customers. Citibank, the Bank of Queensland, Suncorp and Bendigo Bank have policies preventing their credit cards from being used for gambling transactions.
The fact that Australia’s big four banks profit from problem gambling is a practice that many claim is a violation of responsible lending. In an effort to minimise problem gambling and protect vulnerable Australians, UCA Funds Management would like to see the implementation of a debit-only gambling system wherein clients can only gamble funds currently available in their accounts.
Aussies are Prime Targets for Online Gambling Companies
Online gambling is easily accessible – perhaps too easily accessible, considering the increased addiction potential for this form of betting. In fact, 2.7 per cent of online gamblers are problem gamblers, compared to only 0.9 per cent of gamblers overall. With hundreds of online gambling options, those vulnerable to gambling addiction face endless temptation.
The online gambling industry is well aware of the Australian propensity for gambling, as many off-shore online casinos market themselves specifically to Australians and offer payment options in AUD. The industry is also in tune with the Australian love of pokies, providing endless options for fun slot games with exciting, high-quality graphics available to be played day and night from the comfort of home.
Why Gambling With Your Credit Cards is Bad News
Credit cards make gambling easy. When gambling online, credit cards the simplest (and sometimes only) way to place your bets. If you’re gambling with credit cards because you’ve already bet away all of your cash, this should be a giant red flag to stop playing immediately. Even if you do have the cash and are simply playing on credit for convenience, credit gambling is highly inadvisable. Here’s why:
While any gambling habit can land you in serious trouble and leave you buried in debt, credit card gambling is especially problematic due to the tendency to view racked up credit differently than we view spending money. People have been found to be significantly more likely to overspend when gambling with credit, because watching a credit number increase simply doesn’t have the same impact as watching your bank balance deplete. Plainly stated, credit just doesn’t feel like real money. When gambling with cash, when your balance drops to zero, you’re much more likely to consider the consequences of taking the next step and gambling further. With credit, even if you plan to stay within a limit, it’s much easier to convince yourself to stretch that limit, even after moving into the red.
The Credit Card Gambling Debt Cycle
Gambling on credit is a bad choice, even if you do manage to stay within your limit. Credit card companies view money spent on gambling as a cash advance. Cash advances come at a fee, often with high interest rates. Additionally, both online and regular casinos typically charge an additional service fee to those who gamble on credit. What all this boils down to is that when you gamble with your credit card, each bet is actually costing you more than if you had used cash.
For those who do gamble beyond their means on credit cards, all these hidden fees and high interest rates make a bad situation even worse. Interest rates on cash advances can be as high as 30 per cent and typically a credit card must be paid off entirely before the interest rate is reset. For the problem gambler, this day often never comes, and if it does, it’s usually taken as an opportunity to place another bet.
As further insult to injury, one of the few benefits of spending on credit cards, accumulation of reward points, does not apply to gambling transactions since they are treated as cash advances.
This debt cycle of credit card gambling has caused some to point the finger of blame at the banks themselves. These banks are essentially allowing people to borrow money to fuel their gambling addiction. Many opponents of this practice claim it is highly unethical, especially considering the severe social consequences of gambling-related credit card debt including broken homes and even suicide.
Where to Turn For Gambling Addiction Help
If you know your gambling has become a problem but you find yourself unable to stop, the time to address the problem is now. The Cabin Sydney has experienced, professional addiction experts with the knowledge and skills to help you quit. Our Recovery Zones treatment method is especially effective in treating process addictions like gambling. Don’t wait a moment longer- contact us today to find out how we can help.