Earlier this week, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) announced its plans to impose a ban on the use of credit cards for both retail and online gambling. The ban which is supposed to take effect on April 14 applies to all forms of gambling except for over-the-counter National Lottery tickets that are usually sold by newsagents and at lottery stores.

According to Neil McArthur, CEO of the Gambling Commission, credit card gambling has the potential to cause significant financial harm to whoever uses them to gamble. By imposing a ban on the use of these cards for gambling purposes, the commission hopes to minimize that risk. In essence, it is designed to keep players from gambling with money that they do not have. This way, they are safe from incurring huge debts and some high transaction fees that usually accumulate in the course of their gambling activities.

“Research shows that 22% of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm,” Neil McArthur said on Tuesday.

How It All Started

The earliest record of plans to curb the use of credit cards in gambling is from 2018 when the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGCB) asked the UK Gambling Commission to look into mechanisms that would prevent people from gambling with borrowed funds. Fortunately, the UKGC followed up with the issue in early 2019 when it launched a call for evidence on the matter.

Later in the course of the just-concluded year, the gambling commission launched an intensive 12-week consultation that ended in November. It sought ought opinions from the public and various stakeholders before drafting the recently released report. This report revealed that nearly half of the gamblers in the country bet online and as many as 22 percent of them use credit cards to bet. As it turns out, a good number of these gamblers are problem gamblers or are at risk of related harm.

Initially, the commission was considering imposing a limitation on the use of credit cards but this was scraped out in favor of a total ban which they believe will be way more effective.

The Reception

After the gambling commission announced the ban, some gaming companies experienced drops in their share prices. Many of them had already received warnings from campaigners regarding credit card usage on their platforms and they had already braced for the impacts.

While the ban is expected to change quite a few things, some responsible gambling campaigners are still not convinced that it will be fully effective. For instance, gamblers can still simply withdraw funds at ATMs and proceed to use them to gamble. That said, they are asking for more emphasis to be laid on the forthcoming review of the Gambling Act which will serve to strengthen gambling control in the country.