Introduced in April 2020

UK credit card ban 'successful', Gambling Commission report says

Andrew Rhodes, Interim Chief Executive of the UK Gambling Commission, described the implementation as "successful".
Reading time 2:16 min
An interim evaluation on the ban found the action to be popular among consumers, that it has not resulted in unintended consequences, and that people who previously gambled with a credit card now gamble with available, non-borrowed funds. A full evaluation of the ban has been commissioned, scheduled for completion in 2023, which will inform future policy development.

The UK Gambling Commission has published a new interim evaluation on the implementation of its credit cards ban, which it calls “successful.” The report indicates the action is popular among consumers and has not resulted in harmful unintended consequences, the commission said in a press release.

First introduced in April 2020, the credit card ban seeks to add another layer of protection for consumers, while adding friction to the process of gambling with borrowed money. According to the public body, evidence revealed some gamblers facing high levels of debt were using credit cards to fund their operations.

The new report found that support for the ban among consumers has been “largely positive.” Feedback and data received from gamblers “support the conclusion” that the ban helps people to bet within their means and retain control of their gaming.

“The successful implementation of the ban across the industry and the impact on consumer behaviour and financial spend we have monitored so far is an encouraging sign that the ban has reduced consumer reliance on gambling with borrowed money,” said Andrew Rhodes, Interim Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission.

Additionally, the proportion of consumers reporting gambling with other forms of borrowed money has remained stable, and there has been no increase in reports of illegal money lending related to gambling.

The commission says that while consumers are aware of ways to legally bypass the credit card ban, far more people who previously gambled with a credit card now gamble with available, non-borrowed funds than other types of borrowed money.

The regulator has also analyzed bank data for the report, which showed no observed spike for credit card gamblers in money transfers, and no spike in ATM withdrawals from credit cards around the time of the ban has been reported either.

The report further shows “a major high street bank” has observed the volume and value of gambling transactions with credit cards to the gambling merchant code reduced to a very low level. Continually low-level expenditure to businesses with gambling merchant codes was expected, says the Gambling Commission, and can be explained by activities outside the scope of the ban, such as lotteries and competitions spending.

Additionally, major e-wallet and electronic money providers have blocked gambling transactions if funding originated from credit cards.

To inform the report, the Gambling Commission used its Online Tracker survey, which collects quarterly data from a sample of about 2,000 adults in Great Britain; and Consumer Voice research completed by 2CV, involving an eight-day online programme with 30 respondents.

The regulator says it will keep evaluating activity “to ensure there is not an increase” in harmful forms of funding gambling activity. NatCen Social Research has been commissioned to conduct a full evaluation of the ban. The evaluation is scheduled for completion “in early 2023” and the Commission will use the findings, along with its own continued monitoring, “to inform future policy development.”

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