The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has confirmed its widely expected ban on credit card transactions will be implemented across the UK gambling industry.

The Commission’s first regulatory decision of 2020, will be enforced on 14 April 2020, granting the industry required time to partake in all necessary adjustments.

Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, commented: “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.”

The Commission came to the decision as a result of its year-long consultation on online gambling, which placed heightened attention to analysing the regulatory structures and industry safeguards monitoring credit card transactions.

During the consultation period, financial services authority UK Finance estimated that 800,000 consumers use credit cards to gamble, as the Commission sought to greater understand the extent of the issue with the help of the UK’s finance sector. 

In its research, the Commission detailed that ‘22% of online gamblers using credit cards to wager are classed as problem gamblers’, and that further protections were needed to protect ‘at-risk customers’.

Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, backed the decision: “It is essential that every effort is made to protect those who may be at risk of experiencing gambling harm, so we welcome the decision by the Gambling Commission to extend the ban on using credit cards for online gambling, as well as offline.

“Gambling is a public health issue and mobile technology gives people access to gambling anytime, anywhere. Anyone who chooses to gamble should be able to do so in a safe environment, where the risks and available support options are made crystal clear.”

The credit wagering ban will be applied across both land-based and online products, with the exception of non-remote lotteries.

In addition, during 2019 the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) had held discussions with UK banks and gambling operators to discuss growing concerns on credit wagering, assessing how incumbents could use customer data and technology to stop problem gambling transactions.

DCMS’ Helen Whately added on the news: “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.

“In the past year we have introduced a wave of tougher measures, including cutting the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals, bringing in tighter age and identity checks for online gambling and expanding national specialist support through the NHS Long Term Plan.

“We have also secured a series of commitments from five leading gambling operators that will include £100 million funding towards treatment for problem gamblers.”