The betting and gaming industry has taken the new restrictions on credit card payments and enhanced self exclusion requirements as a mainly positive move from the regulator, although there is still some confusion around why there remains some products outside the scope of the new regulations.
Brigid Simmonds OBE, Chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council (BGC), welcomed the move as it underlined the industry’s push to improve things for its customers.
She said: “The BGC is committed to raising standards, safer gambling and change, we therefore strongly welcome the requirement for all companies to join GAMSTOP as part of our continued determination to raise standards in the industry.
“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.”
Problem gambling care charity Gordon Moody Association also welcomed the move:
This will help reduce the ease at which problem gamblers can continue to gamble. Our ex service users view was very strongly that they should be banned and submitted views in the consultation too. #gamblingrecovery https://t.co/nLSaCUThVh
— Gordon Moody Assoc. (@GordonMoody) January 14, 2020
Fiona Palmer, chief executive of GAMSTOP, was understandably delighted with the effective seal of approval from the regulator.
She commented: “We have been working very hard for the last two years to ensure that GAMSTOP becomes a trusted, secure and independent service that helps anyone who has an issue with their gambling to exclude themselves from the majority of online sites. More than 118,000 people have already used GAMSTOP to exclude themselves from online gambling for either six months, a year or five years, and today’s announcement recognises the progress that we have made.”
Palmer said that GAMSTOP will continue to work closely with the regulator, operators and charities to ensure the provision of a straightforward, effective self-exclusion scheme for consumers. She continued: “We understand that, for anyone experiencing issues with their gambling, self-exclusion may not offer a complete solution and is only one tool amongst a range of measures that might need to be deployed. We take care when anyone contacts us via our helpline or through the further support section of our website to refer anyone requiring specialist help to independent providers with the appropriate expertise.”
She added: “We are confident that the launch of GAMSTOP as a one-stop self-exclusion scheme for all licensed operators will allow us to grow the service significantly and to provide greater protection to consumers.”
However not all operators are equal. ‘Low-risk games’ such as draw-based games like the Lotto and EuroMillions will still be available to those who have signed up to GAMSTOP, with vulnerable players given the ‘opportunity’ to self-exclude from such games through individual lottery operators.
Similarly, the National Lottery draws are also exempt from the credit card ban. While Camelot doesn’t take credit card payments online, retailers are still able to take credit card as payments for gambling products.
The Gambling Commission said that the ban will not extend to non-remote lotteries (where payment is made face-to face). “We acknowledge that National Lottery and society lottery tickets and scratchcards can be bought in supermarkets and newsagents along with other products.
“It would be a disproportionate burden on retailers to identify and prevent credit card payments for lottery tickets if they form part of a wider shop. National Lottery retailers are trained in preventing excessive play and National Lottery draw-based games have the lowest problem gambling rate of any product at 1%.”
However the carve out from the new safeguards have left some industry stakeholders scratching their heads, such as TAG Media CEO Tom Galanis.
Yet the National Lottery is exempt from this ban? Why, pray tell… https://t.co/YaYRo0OecC
— Tom Galanis (@TomGalanis) January 14, 2020