As expected, the UK Gambling Commission has announced a ban on gambling businesses allowing consumers to use credit cards to gamble.
The ban, which comes into effect on April 14, 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.
Around 24 million adults in Great Britain gamble, with 10.5 million of those gambling online. UK Finance estimates that 800,000 consumers use credit cards to gamble.
Separate research undertaken by the commission shows that 22 per cent of online gamblers using credit cards to gamble are classed as problem gamblers – with even more at some risk of harm.
The ban, which will apply to all online and offline gambling products with the exception of non-remote lotteries, 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 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.”
McArthur said although he understood that some consumers used credit cards because they were convenient, the risk of harm to others was too high to allow the use of credit cards to continue.
“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.”
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. 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.”