Gambling businesses will no longer be allowed to let customers use credit cards to gamble, the Gambling Commission has announced. The ban will apply to both online and offline gambling products, and will come into effect on 14 April.
The move follows a public consultation along with a Gambling Commission review of online gambling and a government review of gaming machines. According to banking trade association UK Finance, around 800,000 people use credit cards to gamble, while Gambling Commission research shows that more than a fifth of online gamblers who use their credit cards are classed as problem gamblers. More than 10m UK adults currently engage in some form of online gambling.
The National Lottery has already prohibited the use of credit cards for online payments, with some other operators following suit. People will still be able to buy lottery tickets or scratchcards in shops alongside other purchases, however. ‘It would be a disproportionate burden on retailers to identify and prevent credit card payments for lottery tickets if they form part of a wider shop,’ the Gambling Commission says, adding that shopkeepers are already trained in ‘preventing excessive play’ and that National Lottery products have ‘the lowest problem gambling rate of any product’, at around 1 per cent.
All online gambling operators will also be compelled to participate in the GAMSTOP scheme by the end of March, the commission added, which allows customers to self-exclude from online operators with a single request rather than requesting each operator individually.
‘The ban that we have announced today should minimise the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have,’ said Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur. ‘Research shows that 22 per cent 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 added. ‘But we will evaluate the ban and watch closely for any unintended circumstances for consumers.’