Gambling Commission hails success of credit card ban

The ban on credit card gambling was introduced in April 2020.
The ban on credit card gambling was introduced in April 2020.

After 18 months in place, the ban has had no “unintended consequences” Britain’s Gambling Commission says.

UK.- The British regulator the Gambling Commission has judged its ban on using credit cards to gamble a success. It says that 18 months on from the ban’s introduction in April 2020, the move has been well-received and has not generated any “unintended consequences”.

The regulator said an online survey of 2,000 adults by Yonder and focus groups with 30 respondents showed positive results. It said there had been no evidence of players turning to unlicensed operators as a result of the ban, while 76 per cent of those who had gambled with a credit card no longer used credit to gamble.

There had been concerns that customers would still gamble with credit using other methods, but the regulator believed the ban was successful since it added friction to the process. It has been concluded that there is no need to amend the ban for the moment.

The Gambling Commission said: “A major high street bank has informed us that they observed the volume and value of gambling transactions with credit cards to the gambling merchant code, MCC7995, reduce to a very low level after the ban.”

It added: “Our sources have not identified any displacement to black-market sources as a result of the credit card ban, although the motivations of the individual for gambling with an unlicensed operator are rarely known.”

The Gambling Commission has not detected any breaches of the ban, although it was forced to clarify to operators early on that e-wallets with credit were also banned. Operators had quickly resolved this issue, the regulator said.

It did, however, say more research was needed due to the availability of other ways to access credit for gambling. This will be carried out by NatCen, commissioned by Gambling Research Exchange Ontario (GREO).

Focus groups found that some players, often at-risk or problem gamblers, used workarounds like transferring money from their credit card into a current account.

The regulator said it had found no evidence of players turning to loan sharks as a result of the ban but that this would need to be studied further.

It said: “This will need to remain under observation as the team has seen a significant reduction in the number of reports received during the pandemic.

“Pandemic-related factors such as the closure of normal meeting places between loan sharks and victims, restrictions on movement and self-isolation are likely to have contributed to the decrease in reports, but this may change now that restrictions have been eased.”

Both Ireland’s new gambling bill and Northern Ireland’s gambling amendments have proposed introducing similar bans on gambling with credit cards.

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