Gambling Via Credit Cards to Be Banned from April 2020 in the UK

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The UK Gambling Commission has announced a complete ban on gambling with credit cards in their latest attempts to crack-down on problem gambling. From April 14th, operators will no longer be able to offer consumers in Great Britain the option of funding gambling transactions through credit cards. The ban comes after the Commission’s review of online gambling and the UK Governments review of gaming machines and social responsibility measure.

It’s estimated that 24 million adults in the UK gamble and 10.5 million of those gamble online. UK finance have dug into those numbers and have found as any as 800,000 consumers use credit cards to fund this, with some 22% of those users being classed as a problem gambler. Even more than this percentage are within the ‘at risk’ category.

All offline and online gambling products will no longer be accessible to credit card users, with the exception of non-remote lotteries. The move is to provide a significant layer of additional protection to those vulnerable to gambling problems.

Not Everyone Has a Problem!

Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, said:

“Credit card gambling can lead to significant financial harm. The ban that we have announced today should minimise the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have.

“Research shows that 22% of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm.

‘“We also know that there are examples of consumers who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of credit card availability. There is also evidence that the fees charged by credit cards can exacerbate the situation because the consumer can try to chase losses to a greater extent.”

“We realise that this change will inconvenience those consumers who use credit cards responsibly, but we are satisfied that reducing the risk of harm to other consumers means that action must be taken.” he said. “But we will evaluate the ban and watch closely for any unintended circumstances for consumers.” 

McArthur noted that he understood that many consumers simply used credit cards as a more convenient way to pay, but they could not ignore the much higher risks to others and have decided to remove temptation out of harm’s way. Despite the ban, more efforts will need to be done to crack down on the growing number of people with a gambling habit.

“The ban is part of our ongoing work to reduce gambling harm. We also need to continue the work we have been doing with gambling operators and the finance industry to ensure consumers only gamble with money they can afford to spend.”

Technology is Key

Ministers from the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport met with gambling operators and banks last year to highlight their growing concerns. At the meeting, the department discussed how technology could be used to identify customers who were at risk, including those who fund their transactions via credit cards.

Culture Minister Helen Whately said:

“Whilst millions gamble responsibly, I have also met people whose lives have been turned upside down by gambling addiction.

“There is clear evidence of harm from consumers betting with money they do not have, so it is absolutely right that we act decisively to protect them.

“In the past year we have introduced a wave of tougher measures, including cutting the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals, bringing in tighter age and identity checks for online gambling and expanding national specialist support through the NHS Long Term Plan. We have also secured a series of commitments from five leading gambling operators that will include £100 million funding towards treatment for problem gamblers.

“But there is more to do. We will be carrying out a review of the Gambling Act to ensure it is fit for the digital age and we will be launching a new nationwide addiction strategy in 2020.

“We will not hesitate to take any further action necessary to protect people from gambling harm.”

It Has to Stop!

Neil McArthur said:

“We welcome the fact that GAMSTOP have got to this stage in their development and encourage them to continue to improve their offer, particularly in relation to preventing those who have self-excluded being targeted by direct marketing.

“It is important that self-exclusion schemes are as effective as possible and they will be most effective when used in combination with other blocking tools such as gambling blocking software and payment card blocking.”

Helen Whately added:

“We have been clear to all businesses that have connections to gambling, such as operators, social media platforms and banks, that they must be socially responsible and use the power of technology and data to help consumers manage their spending and protect them from harm.

“I have been encouraged by the majority of major high street banks introducing measures to allow customers to switch off spending on gambling through mobile apps.

“By making it a regulatory requirement for all online gambling websites licensed in Great Britain to sign up to GAMSTOP. I am confident that people who have taken the significant step to opt out of gambling will be well supported, alongside a wide range of other tools.”

Talking of GAMSTOP, the UK Gambling Commission recently announced that all online gambling operators are now required by law to participate in the multi-operator self-exclusion scheme. This system will allow users to self-exclude from online operators with one request, opposed to individually. A system which is designed to make self-exclusion much, much simpler for those who wish to optout of all gambling related activity.