Pay-By-Phone Labelled Loophole
by Glenn Baird - June 5, 2020
In April the UKGC banned the use of credit cards to make deposits online. A few weeks on and fresh criticism has arisen over the use of pay-by-phone transactions, which for some, is a loophole that can allow problem gamblers to play with money that they don’t actually have.
The principle behind banning credit cards was to ensure that problem gamblers could only access money that they already had. Whilst there were always going to be ways around this for those determined to use credit, banning credit cards removed impulsivity. Credit could be transferred to debit cards but that would involve time and effort enough for people to see sense and for that impulsivity to dissipate.
Pay-by-phone transactions essentially allow customers to use their mobile phone bill as a form of credit. You click on the pay-by-phone option, type in how much you want to deposit and share your mobile phone number. The amount deposited will then be added to your monthly phone bill.
However, it is worth noting that in most instances the maximum amount that can be borrowed in a single day is £40, with a limit of £240 set for within a month.
The UKGC has stated that they will be monitoring operators to ensure that no one is attempting to circumnavigate the rules surrounding credit.
The BBC ran an article on the subject this morning, with descriptions given by an unnamed gambling addict with thousands of pounds worth of credit card debt who they chose to call Dave for the sake of the article.
In the article Dave describes his experience of pay-by-phone deposits: “It’s like there’s no safe place, it’s like they [the gambling industry] are always on your back,” he says.
“There are people who’ve been in recovery, who are currently struggling, and this will just lead them back into that cycle.
“It’s also dangerous for people who’ve never really considered gambling who might think: ‘It’s only £10 or £20 on your phone, what harm can it do?’ It could be a new, fresh avenue to getting into this life addiction.”
Dr Henrietta Bowden Jones, a spokeswoman for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic adds to this, saying:
“The whole point of banning credit card use for gambling was to ensure consumer safety in relation to avoiding spending more than one could afford, but this seems to me to be a loophole through which gambling could still occur and cause financial harm.”
The Betting and Gaming Council, which represents around 90% of the UK’s betting market, said in a statement it “accepted and welcomed the introduction of the ban on gambling with credit cards”.
“All of our members agreed to the guidelines set out by the Gambling Commission, and we will work with the regulator to ensure that they are adhered to.”