UK to ban online gamblers from paying with credit cards

The UK’s Gambling Commission has announced that as of 14 April 2020, consumers will no longer be able to use credit cards to bet online.

The ban will impact all online casino and betting operators that provide services inside the United Kingdom and comes after the Commission’s review of online gambling, and the government’s review of its social responsibility measures. A public consultation involving all stakeholders was conducted between August and November last year, resulting in the decision to enforce the ban.

According to statistics gathered by the Commission, some 24 million British adults gamble with over 10 million using online gambling platforms. It is estimated that 800,000 consumers use their credit cards to place bets.

In addition to this, the Commission stated that some 22% of online gamblers that use their credit cards to gamble are classed as ‘problem gamblers’ with an even higher figure deemed as ‘at risk’.

The ban will apply to both online and offline gambling with the exception of lottery products sold in shops. 

The Commission’s Chief Executive, Neil McArthur stated that:

““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.”

He added:

‘“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.”

Acknowledging that the ban will cause inconvenience to many, the Commission believes that the reduction in the risk of harm to other consumers outweighs this. They added that they will continue to evaluate the ban for unintended circumstances for consumers.

This latest move is unlikely to appease operators. While most have stringent responsible gaming policies in place, decreasing payment methods for users is an obstacle that will not be looked favourably on. This comes at a time as the UKs position as a popular iGaming jurisdiction appears shaky with Brexit looming on the horizon.

Following the announcement that the UK would leave the European Union, a number of operators shut up shop or relocated headquarters and operations to Malta– a jurisdiction that has been leading the way with online gambling regulations for almost 20 years. Others have looked further afield and sought licensing in jurisdictions such as Costa Rica, and Curacao.

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