In an effort to rein in problem gambling, the U.K. Gambling Commission is banning the use of credit cards for placing bets, the BBC reported on Tuesday (Jan. 14).
The ban is slated to take effect on April 14, following audits of the gambling industry by the commission and the government.
Some 24 million U.K. adults are gamblers, with almost half of those people placing their bets online. Research by the U.K. Gambling Commission indicates that 22 percent of online gamblers who use credit cards to place bets are considered “problem gamblers.”
“Credit card gambling can lead to significant financial harm. The ban that we have announced today should minimize the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have,” said Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive.
He added that the commission knows of people “who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling,” simply because of access to a credit card. “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,” McArthur added.
The credit card ban affects all online and offline gambling, with the exception of “lotteries that are run for good causes.” The commission said lotteries had the lowest problem gambling rate.
“Whilst millions gamble responsibly, I have also met people whose lives have been turned upside-down by gambling addiction,” said Culture Minister Helen Whately. “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.”
Gambling revenue in the U.K. hit £14.4 billion ($18.7 billion) from 2018-19, data from the Gambling Commission indicated. Online gambling firm bet365 has the highest-paid CEO in the U.K., Denise Coates, who earned $422 million in 2019.
“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,” said Brigid Simmonds, chairwoman of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC).