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Treasury has downplayed fears punters have blown superannuation accessed early because of coronavirus on gambling apps and online wagering.

An eye-watering $13.2 billion has been extracted from 1.62 million retirement savings accounts amid the economic devastation from COVID-19.

First-round payments of up to $10,000 are being paid out, with a second cycle due later in the year.

The Australian Financial Review reported on Thursday numerous instances of people gambling away the full $10,000 online.

Treasury official Robert Jeremenko is confident it is not a widespread practice.

“Certainly, if it is true that people are accessing the superannuation and spending it in a way that is not supporting them through this time of economic shock that is of concern,” he told a Senate committee.

But he said there were no restrictions on how people could use the cash.

“The vast majority of those 1.6 million people who have applied for the early access of super would have a story of hardship behind them,” he said.

“They would not be spending it on – as that article suggested – gambling.”

The department’s head of retirement income policy said he didn’t read too much into the report because it relied on unnamed sources.

“We will be collecting detail that will show us I expect that this, if it is true, is an extremely isolated instance and most people are using it to get them through the economic crisis.”