Today the Gambling Commission announced that, from the 14th April 2020, credit cards will no longer be a valid form of payment for gambling or betting purposes.
The ban applies to all forms of land-based and online gambling sites (although not non-remote lotteries that are paid for face-to-face). It is an attempt to minimise the growing issue of problem gambling with the hope that it will reduce the number of people getting into debt.
Protecting the vulnerable
Previous research has shown that 24 million Britons gamble, with UK Finance estimating that 800,000 of these use credit cards.
In a separate study, the Gambling Commission found that 22% of online gamblers that used credit cards to gamble were in fact classed as “problem gamblers”. Even more were shown to suffer some form of gambling harm.
With 10.5 million people in the UK gambling online, it is hoped that the ban on credit cards will be a step towards helping people avoid the potentially harmful situation of getting into unmanageable debt.
“Minimise the risks of harm”
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.”
‘“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.”
Part of a greater effort
It is acknowledged by the Gambling Commission and other bodies that this credit card ban must be accompanied by further efforts to reduce gambling harm. Although the ban is likely to help, more steps need to be taken.
“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.”
Helen Whately, Culture Minister, has also praised the merits of the ban and described the additional measures that will also play a part in reducing the harm gambling can cause.
“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. “
All gambling operators will also need to participate in the GAMSTOP scheme after a change in licensing conditions. They will have to offer customers this service from the 31st March, and it is hoped that this self-exclusion service will support people who are worried about their gambling habits.