The Gambling Commission is preparing to ban bookmakers and gambling websites from accepting deposits made with credit cards. The move has been widely praised by gambling & debt charities as a positive step towards protecting vulnerable consumers.
Gambling charities such as GambleAware and Citizens Advice have been pushing for stricter regulations on credit card bets for the last two years. It comes after several reported cases of people racking up huge gambling debts, thanks in part to easy access to large amounts of credit. In one incident a British woman lost £125,000 while gambling online, including £54,000 in just one overnight sessions.
Once the ban comes into place, customers will only be able to place bets using debit cards. Popular e-wallet services such as PayPal are also expected to be banned. It is hoped that the new regulations will prevent people from over-extending themselves.
More controls for gamblers
In addition to banning credit cards, the government is considering making membership of GamStop a compulsory part of getting a gambling licence. GamStop allows consumers to voluntarily block themselves from accessing gambling sites. Once you ask to be blocked, you will not be able to access any betting site that is part of the scheme.
Brigid Simmonds, chairwoman of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), said the industry body “strongly” welcomed the requirement for all companies to join GamStop.
She said: “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.”
Further improvements still needed
Adam Bradford, co-founder of the Safer Online Gambling Group, said that the credit card ban was welcome, but warned that it is “not a silver bullet to solve the problem as the gambling industry still needs to improve in many areas – for instance, performing better affordability checks on players and being more careful with its advertising”.