Gambling firms will ban credit card bets from April 14

Gambling firms will be banned from allowing punters to bet via credit card from April 14

  • Ban from April 14 comes after Gambling Commission review of online gambling 
  • It also follows Government review of gaming machines and social responsibility
  • Some 24million adults in UK gamble, with 10.5million of those gambling online 
  • UK Finance estimates that 800,000 consumers use credit cards to gamble

Gambling businesses are to be banned from allowing consumers in Britain to use credit cards to gamble, the Gambling Commission said today.

The ban from April 14 follows the commission’s review of online gambling and the Government’s review of gaming machines and social responsibility measures. 

Some 24million adults in Britain gamble, with 10.5million of those gambling online. UK Finance estimates that 800,000 consumers use credit cards to gamble.  

Some 24 million adults in Britain gamble, with 10.5million of those gambling online (file image)

Research undertaken by the commission shows that 22 per cent of online gamblers using credit cards to gamble are classed as problem gamblers. 

The ban will apply to all online and offline gambling products apart from non-remote lotteries, and it is hoped it will provide more protection to vulnerable people.

Culture Minister Helen Whately said she had ‘met people whose lives have been turned upside down by gambling addiction’

A public consultation on the issue was carried out between August and November 2019.

Neil McArthur, the commission’s 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.’

Gambling Commission boss Neil McArthur (pictured in an announcement today) said the ban ‘should minimise the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have’

Mr McArthur said he understood some consumers used credit cards because of their convenience, but the risk of harm to others was too high to allow this to continue.

He added: ‘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.

‘But we will evaluate the ban and watch closely for any unintended circumstances for consumers. 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.’

Last year Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport ministers also met with banks and gambling operators to discuss their concerns.

They also looked at how companies could use technology and customer data to help those at risk of developing gambling problems, including those using credit cards.

The Gambling Commission made the announcement this morning, with its Twitter post above

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 £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. We will not hesitate to take any further action necessary to protect people from gambling harm.’

Adam Bradford, co-founder of the Safer Online Gambling Group, said: ‘This is excellent news and it will provide an extra layer of support for people who are addicted to gambling.

‘It has been a long time in coming and we are glad the Commission have acted decisively on this matter.’

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