The Gambling Commission has announced a ban on betting companies allowing UK consumers to use credit cards to place bets.
The move, an attempt to curb problem betting, follows reviews of the industry by the regulator and the government. A public consultation was carried out between August and November 2019.
Around 24 million adults in the UK gamble, with 10.5 million doing so online. UK Finance estimates that more than 800,000 consumers use credit cards to gamble.
Separate research undertaken by the commission showed that 22 percent of online customers using credit cards to gamble are classed as problem gamblers – with even more at some risk of harm.
The ban will apply to all online and offline gambling products, with the exception of non-remote lotteries.
Gambling Commission chief executive, Neil McArthur, said credit card gambling can “lead to significant financial harm”.
The ban, he said, “should minimise the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have”.
“Research shows that 22 percent of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm,” he said.
“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, said: “While 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.
“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 £100m funding towards treatment for problem gamblers.