The Gambling Commission of the United Kingdom banned credit card usage in casinos for gambling and betting. The ban was effective from the 14th of April 2020. The ban affected all UKGC licensed gambling sites, except credit card casinos that are based outside the United Kingdom. UKGC licensed sites are regulated by the commission, preventing fraudulent activities and offering high-quality SSL encrypted security.
According to the Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission, this ban should reduce risks and financial harm to credit card users. The ban is hoped to improve the situation of addictive gambling by restricting credit card usage that offers unlimited funds to the users.
In a report, it was revealed that 22 percent of gamblers use a credit card to pay off their gambling debts. Moreover, UK finance estimated that out of 10.5 million online gamblers, 800,000 use credit cards to clear the debt. Multiple studies have been conducted that prove that usage of credit cards catalyzes the process of addictive gambling. With more and more sectors getting added to the gambling industry such as esports betting, TV games betting, different themed slot games, people of all age groups are getting indulged in it. The lockdown due to the global pandemic of COVID 19 has worked in favour of the industry.
According to critics, at this crucial stage, this action of banning credit card usage for gambling was much needed to save the worldwide population from gambling addiction and never-ending credit card debts. There were multiple reasons behind the ban, the most important being protecting the loss of individuals due to addictive gambling. Credit cards allow a transaction to a certain limit which is often more than one’s income. Gamblers often forget that credit card money is not their own money rather it is borrowed money that needs to be paid.
This action will also ensure the practice of responsible gambling on licensed websites. The ban will also prevent underage gambling as parents often tend to lend their credit cards to kids who later may use them to gamble. Overall, this ban will prevent the financial drain of individuals due to gambling to some extent.
The law has been made to prioritize the protection of gamblers, at any cost. Although it might come as a shock and upsetting to many gamblers, especially punters, it will prove to be beneficial to the players in the long run.
- Prevention of Addictive gambling: According to the National Council on Problem Gambling, addictive gambling adversely affects your finances as well as other aspects of your life. Repeated borrowing from friends and relatives to clear debts makes them create distance from you. Like any other addiction, it affects your loved ones the most. Credit cards users tend to spend more than they afford as it acts as invisible money, thus they don’t realize they are spending any money before it’s too late. A credit card allows a user to deposit an amount on a gambling site or sportsbook that is beyond his or her financial capability. This leads to repeated deposition of money and wagering on multiple bets, games, and jackpots. Later, if the wager results in loss, punters wager more money to get back the lost amount. Like this, they unconsciously fall into the loophole of gambling addiction. Eliminating credit cards as a payment method ensures the spending of earned money on gambling to a fixed limit. This, in turn, prevents addictive gambling. Thus, the ban has been proved effective in this cause.
- Reducing Financial Vulnerability of Gamblers: Usage of credit cards for gambling makes individuals financially vulnerable as they are not conscious of their gambling expenditure until the debt catches up to them. The problem has been acknowledged by several banks like Citibank, which had banned the usage of their credit card for any gambling activity. This does not allow their credit card users to deposit in a gambling site using their credit cards. Now, the ban will ensure the same for all individuals irrespective of their bank. Credit card companies and gambling sites used to take advantage of gambler’s vulnerability by charging extra fees from credit card users as hidden charges. Most of the users would not mind the extra fee, like credit, as mentioned earlier is invisible money. Several reports show that a huge number of individuals spend thousands of dollars on gambling sites using a credit card. The ban will now prevent such acts of unconscious spending.
While the ban is undoubtedly advantageous for a player in the United Kingdom and safeguards their funds, it has been proven detrimental for the gambling industry and also might affect the government.
- A report was published on the number of credit card transactions in online gambling sites in the UK per month from 2015 to 2017. The average number of transactions was calculated to be around 7.5 million while the lowest point was 5.59 million the highest was 8.31 million reached in March 2017. From the report, it is evident that a huge amount of revenue was generated by the gaming industry consisting of thousands of online gambling sites from credit card users. The ban has brought about a decline in net profit in their business. This ban may account for the great loss of gambling companies and even migration of some sites and companies from UKGC license to less strict options such as Malta, Macau, France, etc.
- The gambling industry has rapidly grown in the past decade and contributes to the economy of the country. Countries with taxable gambling will be affected by the ban. If there is a loss in the industry, the tax revenue from the industry will also lessen, thus negatively impacting the country’s economy.
There are several stories of people who have lost not only their money but also their loved ones due to addictive gambling. Credit card debts due to gambling have shaken the financial stability of many users, thus this ban was much needed to save such people who tend to exploit the allowance given by the credit card.