The Gambling Commission’s proposed ban on using credit cards for gambling purposes has now come into effect.
As of April 14, 2020, the UK’s gambling body has introduced the measure officially and has immediately declared it a very apt piece of regulation given the need to look out for the possibility of regular players showing signs of gambling-related harm while the country is in effective lockdown during fight against the coronavirus pandemic.
e-Wallets Affected, Lotteries Exempt
The planned ban on credit card activity was first announced back in January by the conservative government’s Department for Culture, Media and Sport along with the Commission.
It means that consumers will no longer be able to use credit cards of any type (debit cards are not affected), to fund gambling of whether that be in person or online.
The ban does not cover lottery tickets however, with many players paying for these along with their shopping or via online accounts with organisers such as Camelot and for now, this remains permitted via credit card including the purchase of scratch cards.
The credit card ban has also had a direct effect on e-wallets or ‘digital wallets’, as if these are first funded by credit card then again, they cannot be used by punters to circumvent the new rules and gambling using this form of payment anyway.
The Commission has moved to remind gambling operators that they must only accept e-wallet payments if they themselves have been able to prevent credit cards as a form of uploading funds.
Gambling Commission chief exec Neil McArthur spoke out on this subject as the ban was introduced, saying that the credit card block in Britain will further protect customers from financial harm as a result of gambling and that from April 14, nobody in the country will be able to use a credit card for gambling.
While his comments are true in terms of the ban being likely to ultimately reduce the risk of harm to betting customers using money they don’t have, his words to the effect that “nobody can gamble with a credit card” are not true and should be treated with caution.
All too often those using skill and knowledge, such as horse racing, football or poker players, are lumped together with those who gamble purely on hope and once again those buying exorbitant amounts of scratch cards and lottery tickets are left alone to fund their purchases whatever way they like.
Timely Ban as Coronavirus Rips Through UK
While there are clearly still holes in this rule in the wider scheme of things, the ban does represent some fortuitous and welcome timing. As COVID-19 peaks, the entire country buys more online and plays more online during lockdown.
Online slots, virtual sports and many other gambling forms that punters cannot control the results of are being played with Gambling Commission research showing an increase in consumer interest, with credit cards sometimes used to fund the entertainment.
With that in mind, Neil McArthur thinks this ban is another milestone and his Commission will continue to search for ways to make gambling safer which, broadly speaking, is very welcome.
This decision comes about after the regulator conducted a review of online gambling alongside the government’s review of gaming machines and social responsibility measures last year.
Banning credit cards is arguably something that should have been done a long time ago, however it is very disappointing that those consciously choosing to log in and play a game are targeted while those loosely buying lottery tickets and scratch cards are left alone to do as they please, no matter the end result.