Newsagents’ pre-emptive strike against lotto credit card ban


The peak body has become increasingly powerful within the corridors of power, having led a successful campaign against controversial “fake lotto” website Lottoland which led to it being banned from accepting bets on Australian-based lotteries.

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About 8 million Australians buy a lottery ticket or scratchie ticket every year, with millions of dollars in revenue fed back to state governments for funding hospitals and charities.

Industry sources told The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald about 40 per cent of lottery tickets are paid for on credit cards, with the majority of those part of mixed purchases including other items such as greeting cards, newspapers and confectionery.

Ben Kearney, chief executive of the ALNA, said any potential restrictions or prohibition for purchasing lottery tickets at a newsagent with a credit card was “a form of overreach” and it “simply doesn’t make sense”.

“Customers who purchase lottery tickets in a retail store are not making multiple large transactions in one sitting, they are enjoying the dream and waiting a few days for the results,” he said.

“And this different behaviour combined with some of the most comprehensive and successful regulation in the industry, makes purchasing lotto tickets extremely low harm and very different to other forms of gambling.”

He said lottery purchases had been repeatedly proven to have an “almost negligible risk” and to be a net community benefit.

“If the ABA is using this opportunity to review the unsophisticated merchant codes that apply to newsagents lottery transactions, then we welcome that,” he said.

“But if they are taking a moral stance then we would refer them to our submission that explains lotteries purchased in-store do not have a risk profile like other forms of gambling.”

The ABA stresses it is “actively engaging” with different stakeholder groups in the review, with sources saying it was “very aware” of the issues raised by newsagents lobby.

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Individual banks will be left with the decision to take up any recommendation by the ABA because competition law prevents an industry association recommending the introduction of such measures.

ABA chief executive Anna Bligh said for many Australians gambling was a form of entertainment and recreation, however for some it could become a problem with potentially devastating consequences.

“We are seeking feedback across the community on a number of important questions, which will then help banks as they each individually consider further reform on this issue,” Ms Bligh said.

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