The gambling watchdog today confirmed it will ban the act of betting with credit card deposits from April.
The block will target all online and offline betting to clamp down on problem gambling, apart from “non-remote lotteries” like the National Lottery, where payments are taken face to face.
“The ban that we have announced today should minimise the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have,” Gambling Commission chief executive Neil MacArthur said.
“Research shows that 22 per cent of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm.”
He said some people have stacked up tens of thousands of pounds of debt through credit card gambling, which is exacerbated by credit card fees.
“We realise that this change will inconvenience those consumers who use credit cards responsibly but we are satisfied that reducing the risk of harm to other consumers means that action must be taken,” MacArthur added.
The commission will review the ban after it comes in on 14 April for any adverse effects.
Culture minister Helen Whately welcomed the move, saying there is “clear evidence of harm” from consumers who bet on credit cards.
“It is absolutely right that we act decisively to protect them,” she said.
“But there is more to do. We will be carrying out a review of the Gambling Act to ensure it is fit for the digital age and we will be launching a new nationwide addiction strategy in 2020.”
McArthur warned: “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.”
The commission said 24m Brits gamble, with 10.5m of them betting online.
Banking industry interest group UK Finance has estimated that 800,000 consumers gamble using credit cards.
Adam Bradford, co-founder of the Safer Online Gambling Group, approved of the changes and called them “excellent news”.
“It will provide an extra layer of support for people who are addicted to gambling,” he said. “It has been a long time in coming and we are glad the Commission has acted decisively on this matter.
“The additional requirement for all online gambling websites to ensure they are signed up to blocking software Gamstop is also a further good move to ensure that those with a gambling problem can get help and support in a consistent way throughout the industry.”
Betting firms suffered from the announcement at the open of trading today, with William Hill and Ladbrokes owner GVC falling five per cent and two per cent respectively.
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