The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) has maintained its 2020 regulatory agenda by implementing its outright ban on credit card wagering across all gambling verticals, enforced from Tuesday 14 April.
The anticipated ban on all credit transactions was approved this January, marking the Commission’s first industry-wide regulatory enforcement for 2020 proceedings.
In its January announcement, the Commission underlined that a blanket ban on credit wagering was required as a ‘further layer of protection’, helping the government achieve its mandate of the UK maintaining the ‘safest gambling environment’.
The sanctioned credit ban will apply to all online and offline gambling verticals with the exception of non-remote lotteries.
Ahead of the enforcement, Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, said: “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.”
Research conducted by UK Finance estimates that circa 800,000 consumers gamble on credit cards. The figure reflects a small segment of the 24 million UK adults who gamble each year, of which 10.5 million wager online.
Backing its enforcement, the UKGC underlined that ‘22% of online gamblers using credit cards to gamble are classed as problem gamblers – with even more at some risk of harm’. The UKGC and its policy advisors are satisfied that the enforcement will reduce problem gambling factors.
The UKGC explained that it will monitor and evaluate the credit ban ‘for any unintended circumstances for consumers’.
Further developing its 2020 regulatory agenda, the UKGC – supported by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) – will continue to work with financial sector incumbents and technology firms to address betting compliance and problem gambling concerns.
Working with wider industries, the UKGC and DCMS seek guidance on how new technologies combined with deeper consumer data can help strengthen the UK’s gambling policy frameworks, technical standards and best practices.
Backing directives, UK Culture Minister Helen Whately said: “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.
“But there is more to do. We will be carrying out a review of the Gambling Act to ensure it is fit for the digital age and we will be launching a new nationwide addiction strategy in 2020.”