The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has produced an interim evaluation of the ban on using a credit card to gamble online in the UK. The ban was introduced in April 2020 in order to offer greater consumer protections around gambling with borrowed money, after it was revealed that many gamblers with high levels of debt were using credit cards to fund their gambling.
The interim assessment from the UKGC states that the move has been popular among consumers and that it has not resulted in unintended, harmful consequences.
Consumers in favour of credit card gambling ban
The UKGC report has discovered that qualitative data obtained from consumers reinforces the notion that the ban helps people to stay on control of their gambling by assisting them with staying within their financial means.
It has also revealed that the proportion of consumers who report gambling with other kinds of borrowed money has remained stable, and that there is no increase in reports of illegal money lending related to gambling.
The report also indicates that it would appear that many people who gambled using their credit card in the past now gamble with available funds rather than making any recourse to other forms of borrowing. This is despite the fact that consumers remain generally aware of ways in which they can legally bypass the ban on using their credit cards for online sports betting and other forms of gambling.
Another interesting finding from the interim report was that banks observed no ‘spike’ in the three months after the ban was put in place of credit card gamblers making money transfers. Additionally, there was also no commensurate spike in credit card gamblers using ATMs to withdraw cash.
A high street bank was also able to tell the report that the volume as well as the value of credit card transactions using the gambling merchant code have reduced to significantly low levels. This was expected, and the ongoing, minimal usage of the gambling merchant code can be explained by other activities such as lottery gaming and spending on competitions.
As part of the ban, ewallet providers such as PayPal have also blocked any gambling transactions if the funding source for activities such as esports betting is a credit card.
NatCen Social Research to continue to evaluate credit card gambling ban in UK
Monitoring of the ban’s effects will continue in the future. NatCen Social Research have been commissioned to produce a full evaluation of the ban with credit cards by Greo. This looks set to be completed by early 2023, and the UKGC will use their findings, as well as their own ongoing monitoring, to inform future development of policy.
“Protecting consumers is at the heart of everything we do, we introduced this policy as part of our multifaceted work to reduce gambling harm,” Andrew Rhodes, Interim Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission said.
Rhodes also indicated that he feels that the report’s findings strongly indicate that ban’s successful implementation has reduced consumers’ reliance on borrowed money.