The move intends to reduce problem gambling and will “provide a significant layer of additional protection to vulnerable people”.
The UK Gambling Commission has announced that gambling operators will be banned from allowing customers to use credit cards from 14 April.
The ban will apply to all forms of online and offline gambling, with the exception of non-remote lotteries. The decision has been made following the Commission’s Review of Online Gambling and a Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures conducted by the government.
UK Finance, the trade body for banks the finance industry, estimates that around 800,000 people use credit cards to gamble. Separate research conducted by the Gambling Commission shows that 22% of online gamblers that use credit cards to gamble are classed as problem gamblers.
Gambling Commission chief executive, Neil McArthur, 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.”
Culture Minister Helen Whately added: “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.”
The decision to ban the use of credit cards at online gambling sites is the most recent of a number of tightening regulations, including new identity verification measures for online gambling and a reduction in the stake limit of fixed-odds betting terminals.
In addition to announcing the ban on credit card gambling, the UKGC also revealed changes to licensing conditions that require all online gambling operators to participate in the GAMSTOP scheme by 31 March. The change means that from that date, any gambler signing up to the GAMSTOP scheme will be self-excluded from all licensed online gambling operators.