UK bans credit card gambling from April
The UK Gambling Commission is banning people from using credit cards to place bets in an attempt to curb problem gambling.
The BBC reports that the ban, which starts on 14 April, comes after reviews of the industry by the commission and the government.
A total of 24 million adults in Britain gamble, with 10.5 million of those doing so online.
Separate commission research shows that 22 per cent of online gamblers using credit cards are classed as problem gamblers.
Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur 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.
“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,” Mr McArthur said.
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.”
Ban to apply to online and offline products
The ban will apply to all online and offline gambling products except lotteries that are run for good causes.
These lotteries will have to provide a significant layer of additional protection to vulnerable people.
The commission said that tickets for these lotteries, as well as for the National Lottery, can be bought using credit cards in supermarkets and newsagents, as long as they are purchased with other products.
It said it would be a “disproportionate burden on retailers” to stop credit card payments if the tickets were part of a wider shop, but said lotteries had the lowest problem gambling rate.
Share prices for betting companies fell in early trading last Tuesday, but then recovered quickly.
Under the new regulations, all online gambling operators will have to participate in the Gamstop self-exclusion scheme and offer it to all customers from 31 March.
People who sign up for Gamstop are prevented from using British gambling websites and apps for a chosen time period.
Brigid Simmonds, chairwoman of the Betting and Gaming Council, said the industry body “strongly” welcomed the requirement for all companies to join Gamstop.
She added: “We will implement a ban on credit cards which adds to measures such as age verification, markers of harm and affordability checks, additional funding for research, education and treatment and new codes of conduct to protect the consumer.”
Adam Bradford, co-founder of the Safer Online Gambling Group said that while the credit card ban was “welcome”, it was “not a silver bullet to solve the problem as the gaming industry still needs to improve in many areas – for instance, performing better affordability checks on players and being more careful with its advertising.”
Tighter rules for UK online gambling
Online gambling operators in the UK faced tough new rules for verifying the age of their customers and restrictions on demanding further identification before processing customer withdrawals.
Last February, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) released its new customer identity verification rules, which took effect on May 7, 2019.
The new requirements are part of the regulator’s three-year plan to ensure a ‘fairer and safer’ gambling environment for UK consumers.
The old rules allowed operators a 72-hour window in which to conduct age-verification checks.
Operators must now ensure a new customer is of legal gambling age before allowing that customer to deposit funds into their account or make any bet, according to Calvin Ayre.
The new age-verification rules similarly apply to the free-to-play gambling products on operators’ websites.