The Gambling Commission banned the use of credit cards on online or offline betting or gambling site
The year 2020 was always going to be a challenging one for the gambling industry in the United Kingdom. There had been increasing calls to modify and reform the 2005 Gambling Act, from all parts of society, and this was as a response to the fact that gambling was being seen as a rising source of addiction and as problematic behavior. There had been a number of fines handed down by the UK’s gambling watchdog, the Gambling Commission, and it looked like the operating environment was getting increasingly difficult.
Now, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has made the situation even worse. With physical gambling and betting locations having to close due to the government’s lockdown, many gambling operators had put their hopes on their online betting sites as their savior in these times. However, this has now been hit extremely hard, with the Gambling Commission banning the use of credit cards on online or offline betting or gambling sites. Under the terms of the ruling, credit cards can still be used to buy ‘good cause’ lottery tickets, as long as they are bought along with other items at a supermarket or newsagent. E-wallets cannot be used to make credit card payments for online gambling, but can be used otherwise if the mode of payment into the e-wallet is not a credit card.
This decision, which was first announced in January, is expected to have a huge impact on sites that offer online casino slots for real money, as a significant mode of payment has now been taken away. The logic behind this ruling is that there are many people who are classified as ‘problem gamblers’ i.e. those who have an addiction or are close to being addicted to gambling, who have been shut away alone and in isolation due to the lockdown, and are thus betting more and more online as a way to pass the time, but are causing themselves to fall into financial harm because of their addiction, and because there is nobody around to control these impulses. Research done by the Gambling Commission has shown that around 10.5 million people in the UK gamble online, and about 800,000 of them use credit cards to make payments. It has also gathered that there are 175,000 of these who are problem gamblers and are in financial difficulty because of their addiction.
This ruling is therefore aimed at helping those individuals who are gambling more and more online due to boredom and being stuck inside, but do not have the financial capability to do so, and thus are spending money they do not have to sate their addiction.
This is the latest in a number of reforms that are being carried out on the betting and gambling industry in the UK, with many more expected to come. There are expected to be restrictions brought in on the amount of advertising done by gambling firms, with the current scenario being deemed unacceptable, where gambling adverts dominate the TV, internet and at sports venues, with half of the Premier League’s teams being sponsored by a gambling firm, for example. There is also likely to be a deposit limit brought in, and most controversially, a ‘source of wealth check’, where the betting operators would need customers to demonstrate that they can actually afford what they are proposing to spend on that particular gambling transaction. This is thought of as one of the most effective ways to address the financial issues that crop up for individuals with problem gambling, and it remains to be seen as to how many more reforms are brought in for this sector in the months to come.