Credit card gambling ban: government to meet banks and bookies

Gambling addiction remains a contentious issue for the betting industry, especially in light of ongoing concerns about the effectiveness of self-exclusion schemes such as GamStop and the political row about restricting the maximum stakes on FOBTs (fixed-odds betting terminals).

In its review of online gambling last year, the Gambling Commission said it would also consider “whether gambling on credit should continue to be permitted” as it “increases the risk that consumers will gamble more than they can afford”.

Up to 20% of bets on credit

It found that between 10 and 20% of gambling deposits are made with money that consumers don’t actually have, so if the use of credit cards is restricted or prohibited, billions of pounds’ worth of bets would be affected.

Ahead of the Commission’s call for evidence on the issue next month, the culture secretary, Jeremy Wright, has called on banks and bookmakers to meet to discuss the issue.

“Protecting people from the risks of gambling-related harm is vital and all businesses with connections to gambling – be that bookmakers, social media platforms or banks – must be socially responsible,” he said.

Licences at risk

Wright continued: “The government will not hesitate to act if businesses don’t continue to make progress in this area and do all they can to ensure vulnerable people are protected.

“Gambling operators must step in and act when people are showing signs of risky gambling. Their licences are at risk if they do not. We should also ask if it is right that people should be able to gamble on credit and this is an area that the Gambling Commission are going to look into.”

Gambling Commission compliance

The political appetite for increased regulatory pressure is such that it would come as no surprise if the Commission opted in favour of an outright ban on gambling on credit.

Labour’s deputy leader, Tom Watson, said last September that his party would implement a ban if it came to power, telling The Guardian: “Debt-financed betting on credit cards is wrong. It allows people to bet more than they can afford and particularly affects gambling addicts. Labour will ban it.”

As it is, all commercial gambling businesses that hold a licence under the Gambling Act 2005 must abide by that law and the Commission’s LCCP (Licence conditions and codes of practice) or expect regulatory action.

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