From Tuesday gamblers in the UK are no longer allowed to use credit cards to pay for bets, in a move to add another layer of protection for consumers as online gambling has increased during the coronavirus lockdown.
The ban, first announced in January by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) and the Department for Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS), extends to credit card gambling through e-wallets and applies to online and offline betting.
The Gambling Commission, which regulates and licenses gambling in the UK, points to research that shows around 10.5 million people in the UK gamble online, with 800,000 believed to use credit cards. Research also highlights that 22% of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm.
Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, said in a release today: “This credit card ban will further protect consumers from financial harm and from today, nobody in Great Britain can use a credit card to gamble. It is a ban which ultimately reduces the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have.”
“The ban also comes at a vital time as we are seeing an increase in the use of some online products, such as online slots and virtual sports, and our online search analysis shows an increase in UK consumer interest in gambling products since the lockdown began,” he continued. “This highlights just how important it is for gambling operators to keep people safe and the credit card ban will help that. This is another milestone and we will continue to look for ways to make gambling safer.”
Under the ban, it will still be possible to buy ‘good cause’ lottery tickets with a credit card if they are bought alongside other items in a supermarket or other shop or newsagent. The Commission also reminded operators that they can only accept customer payments via e-wallets if those e-wallets prevent credit card use for gambling.
Some players may be changing their gambling habits during the Covid-19 outbreak and the Commission has also taken steps in the past week to remind consumers of how gambling operators should be keeping them safe when gambling online. If anyone is worried about their or someone else’s gambling activity, The National Gambling Helpline provides confidential information, advice and support for anyone affected by gambling problems in England, Scotland and Wales. For more information visit gamcare.org.uk or call 0808 8020 133.
The credit card ban 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.