UKGC to open consultation on credit card gambling usage

UK’s Gambling Commission (UKGC) has revealed it is set to commence a 12 week consultation into the use of credit cards for online gambling.

Beginning in mid-August 2019, the consultation could lead to a blanket ban of credit card used for wagering purposes; news of the consultation follows a call for evidence back in February this year. 

Paul Hope, executive director, UKGC, said: “Gambling with borrowed money is known to be a risk factor for consumers, so we think there is a need for action. This consultation will help us decide what that action should be.”

UKGC will conduct the “most appropriate course of action” using data already provided along with evidence gained from the consultation and the Commission did not dismiss the idea of a complete ban for online gambling credit card usage.

Founder and CEO of Safer Gambling Solutions, Graham Weir explained to PaymentExpert he feels the consultation is “long overdue” as there needs to be more of an understanding on how people can be protected from gambling harms.

He commented: “Clearly, such spending often impacts others such as partners and children. I suspect banning credit cards is not the answer, but there have to be more robust checks and limits on those choosing to bet using a credit card. 

“Whilst some operators are already looking at solutions, as is often the case, it takes for the commission to get involved for others to take their responsibilities seriously, so I welcome the consultation.”

The initial call for evidence provided UKGC information on key topic areas and what might occur if a ban were to be introduced including alternative forms of borrowing – the concept that consumers will only turn elsewhere if there was to be a ban, such as overdrafts and loans.

UKGC said in the announcement: “it is vital that the financial and gambling sectors work to protect customers from harm where they gamble with other forms of borrowed money.”

Furthermore UKGC acknowledges e-wallets as another avenue for possible problem gambler to utilise as operators would have no knowledge of the payment method originally used to transfer money across. 

To avoid this, the Commission said any future proposals would require e-wallet providers to take the necessary action to support any future regulations.

Chief Executive of the Remote Gambling Association, Wes Himes, told PaymentExpert: “We believe the use of credit cards confers a number of advantages to support safer gambling.

“It avoids the unintended consequences of customers seeking credit from less reputable sources and allows an operator to have digital data to inform safer gambling monitoring and potential intervention.’’

However Harry Cott, co-founder and CEO of beBettor, believes
regulating deposit methods in isolation is “useless” due to the fact everyone’s financial circumstances are different.

He told PaymentExpert: “Instead of blanket regulation restricting or banning the use of credit cards, which may be detrimental to the customer experience, we believe that operators have an obligation to better understand their customer’s and their finances.

“In our view, as long as operators are managing their customers based on their affordability to gamble, customers should be free to deposit with whatever method they choose. This provides customers with maximum deposit method flexibility and freedom over how they pay for their entertainment.

“Should the UKGC end up banning gambling on credit cards, possible unintended outcomes could be that customers find alternate ways to gamble on credit through payday loans and increasing overdraft facilities.”

Cott will feature in panel discussions at this years Betting on Sport and CasinoBeats Summit on tracks: “The Thin Line Between Legal and Affordable” and “Understanding Player Finances”.