The Gambling Commission has announced a ban on gambling businesses allowing consumers in Great Britain to use credit cards to gamble.
The ban comes into effect on 14 April and follows the Commission’s review of online gambling and the Government’s Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures. A public consultation was carried out between August and November 2019.
The Commission says 24 million adults in the UK gamble, with 10.5 million of those gambling online. UK Finance estimate that 800,000 consumers use credit cards to gamble.
The ban, which will apply to all online and offline gambling products with the exception of non-remote lotteries, where payment is made face-to face, will provide a significant layer of additional protection to vulnerable people.
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.”
Mr McArthur warned that, although likely to reduce gambling harm, the banning of credit cards needed to be accompanied by other efforts.
“The ban is part of our ongoing work to reduce gambling harm,” he added. “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.”
Culture Minister Helen Whately said: “While millions gamble responsibly, I have also met people whose lives have been turned upside down by gambling addiction.
“There’s 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’ve 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.”