Credit Cards Banned in the UK
by Glenn Baird - January 14, 2020
The regulatory body for gambling in the UK (the UKGC) announced today that the use of credit cards to make deposits at online gambling sites in the country would be banned as of April the 14th 2020.
Proposals to prohibit the use of credit cards have been rumbling on now in the UK for over two years, making today’s decision something of an inevitability.
Rising concerns in the UK surrounding problem gambling have been at the forefront of national debate for some time now. This legislative move will be welcomed by those who criticise the industry, with calls for a brand new Gambling Act, one that is more relevant to the digital age, the next step on the road to supporting at risk gamblers.
Recent figures published by the UKGC conclude that 24 million adults gamble in the UK, with 10.5 million of them doing so online. It is estimated that of those 10.5 million, 800,000 use credit cards to make deposits at online casinos and bookmakers. 22% of online gamblers who are classified as problem gamblers use credit cards to gamble.
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.”
He goes on to say that:
“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.”
“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, UK Minister for Culture had this to say:
“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.”
Will this Make the Difference?
Whilst most will appreciate any efforts being made to support those considered problem or at-risk gamblers, it will remain to be seen if the exclusion of credit card payments will have the desired impact.
For those desperate enough the additional effort of having to make a credit card payment via an online wallet like Neteller may not prove to be arduous or inconvenient enough to halt the process.
However, for anyone acting purely on impulse, that extra time and that extra process needed to move funds around could be enough to make the difference. If this can prevent even one at-risk gambler from becoming a problem gambler then the decision may prove to be worthwhile.