Posted in Industry May 17, 2020
UK Implements Ban on Credit Card Use for Online Gambling
One less payment option available. If you’re from the United Kingdom or plays in one of the many online casinos licensed by the Gambling Commission, then you can say goodbye to the use of credit cards for online gambling.
First announced on January 14, 2020, the order to ban the use of credit cards take effect April 14th. This ban follows the Gambling Commission’s review of online gambling and an assessment of the risks to players. In creating the policy, the UKGC hosted a public consultation between August and November last year. According to a posted press release, the ban applies to all online and offline gambling products except for non-remote lotteries.
The Gambling Commission, the licensing body in the UK, explains that there are now 24 million adults who gamble in Great Britain. Of this number, more than 10.5 million players online. And based on the research conducted by the Commission, roughly 22 percent of all online gamblers who use credit cards are categorized under ‘problem gamblers’ plus a growing number of players who are considered ‘at risk’.
Consumer Protection Comes First
For the industry watchdog, the implementation of this new policy can help advance consumer protection.
According to Neil McArthur, the Commission’s chief executive, the use of credit cards for gambling can bring significant harm. With this policy in place, the risks on players are minimized since they are ‘gambling with money they do no have’. Mr. McArthur explains that they know of many examples where ‘consumers [who] have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of credit card availability’. He further adds that the credit fees often worsen the situation which often contributes to the stress of struggling players.
Debit Cards, Other Payment Options Not Covered
Just like other policies from the Commission, this new order comes with its set of conditions and exemptions. For example, it is still possible to purchase ‘good cause’ lotto tickets using credit cards only if these are purchased together with other items in the supermarket. Also, this policy does not apply to non-remote lotteries where the purchase and payment of tickets is done face to face. Furthermore, the new rule does not cover the use of debit cards. In short, you can still play online casino games with the use of your preferred debit card.
In the implementation of this policy, the Commission assures everyone (consumers and players included) that they will continuously evaluate the ban. They will remain proactive when it comes to the unintended effects on consumers.
Although it’s a big blow to the business, the majority of gambling operators received the ban on a positive note. Bridgid Simmonds, chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council, shared that they support the efforts to deliver safer gambling. Her organization represents more than 90% of the gambling sector in the UK.
In an emailed statement, she shared that their group will implement the ban on credit card use. This new rule will be integrated into other consumer protection measures like age verification, markers of harm and affordability checks, and investment in research.
Gambling Commission Responds to the COVID Crisis
Facing a health crisis, the online gambling industry saw an increase in customer engagement. To help protect players online, the Commission also recommended a few steps and suggestions for operators. It requested gambling sites to highlight the facilities and tools that will allow players to set their limits on how much they can spend.
Also, it partnered with Twitter to limit the online gambling news and promotions on the players’ feeds. Finally, the Commission also boosted its monitoring efforts to extend to non-UK gambling websites that are trying to attract players from the UK.