The UK Gambling Commission has confirmed that an aforementioned, and widely anticipated, ban on the use of credit cards across all gambling verticals will be implemented in April.
Coming into effect on Tuesday 14 April 2020, it follows a UKGC review of online gambling, including a public consultation undertaken last year, as well as Government reviewing how the sector can can grow and contribute to the economy, ensure social responsibility and do all it should to protect consumers and communities
Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, stressed that although understanding that consumers used credit cards because they were convenient, the risk of harm to others was too high to allow such usage to continue.
Furthermore, although acknowledging a likelihood of reducing gambling harm, the banning of credit cards needs “to be accompanied by other efforts”.
The ban will apply to all online and offline gambling products, with the exception of non-remote lotteries, and has been designed to provide a significant layer of additional protection to vulnerable people.
It is said that 24 million adults in Great Britain gamble, with 10.5 million of those gambling online, as financial services authority UK Finance estimates that 800,000 consumers use credit cards to gamble.
McArthur explained: “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.
— Gambling Commission (@GamRegGB) January 14, 2020
‘“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.”
Adding that the regulator “will evaluate the ban and watch closely for any unintended circumstances for consumers”.
The news follows the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport ministers meeting with banks and operators to discuss growing concerns, as well as how firm’s could utilise technology and customer data to help those at risk of developing gambling problems.
Culture Minister Helen Whately said: “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 £100m 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.”
Brigid Simmonds OBE, chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council, commented on the announcement: “The Betting and Gaming Council is a body firmly committed to raising standards, safer gambling and change.
“We will implement a ban on credit cards and indeed our members will go further to study and improve the early identification of those at risk. The use of credit cards were previously used as a potential marker of harm which might lead to further intervention with customers.”