UK Gambling Commission Considers Ban on Credit Card Gambling
The UK Gambling Commission recently backed a ban on the use of credit cards in gambling. Now, Jeremy Wright, the UK’s Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, announced he might support a ban on credit card gambling in the United Kingdom.
Jeremy Wright said he has “a good deal of sympathy” with a top Labor MP’s calls to ban credit card betting.
Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson noted a woman who wagered £100,000 in two days time by maxing out 9 different credit cards. Now the woman faces crippling debts and spiraling interest payments.
Tom Watson said of the case, “The operators which took her bets should be held responsible for their disgraceful conduct. No one should go into debt to place a bet.”
Jeremy Wright on Credit Card Gambling
Jeremy Wright agrees. When asked about the gambling horror story, the Secretary of State for Digital replied, “I have a good deal of sympathy with those who find themselves in the position of the individual he has described.”
Wright said the responsibility lies not just with the problem gambler described. It doesn’t rely only with her and the casino which accepted her bets. Instead, responsibility relies on the society to assure such gambling doesn’t happen. Or in this case, responsibility lies partly with the government.
Thus, said Jeremy Wright, “It is important that not just gambling companies but all of us take an interest in the way this kind of problem gambling is developing.”
He added that the UK Gambling Commission is looking at the issue, and hinted that the commission might take drastic steps in the near-future. Wright said, “The Gambling Commission is looking at the specific question of gambling on credit—a process we have encouraged. The Government will intend to take action on the back of what they say.”
UK Gambling to Ban Credit Card Gambling?
If the Gambling Commission chose to ban credit card gambling, it would be another huge blow to the UK’s regulated gambling industry. Already, the industry faces a reduction of the max bet on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) from £100 to £2, which is expected to hurt revenues across the board.
Also, the UK’s Chancellor of the Exchequer raised the Point-of-Consumption Tax (POCT) from 15% to 25%, a move designed to generate more gaming tax revenues for the Treasury. It is a replacement for the lost FOBTs revenues.
UK Gambling Industry is Reeling
Both policies hit the UK gambling industry on April 1st. The credit card policy could hit operators at a time they’re already reeling.
Bettors have other options to make deposits: web wallets, e-vouchers, wire transfers, Bitcoin, or other crypto-currencies. Despite that, many online gamblers prefer to use their Visa, MasterCard, or American Express, because they use them every day for other purchases.
Why Switching from Credit Cards Would Matter
Switching from credit cards would be a major change for many gamblers. No doubt, some would balk at switching to a new form of payment.
Of course, Visa and MasterCard debit cards, prepaid cards, and gift cards presumably would still be legal. All work off a debit system instead of a credit system. If the point is to assure the British bettor has the funds to pay for their gaming losses, then debit, prepaid, and gift cards should still work.
Still, the policy would assure problem gamblers wouldn’t go into tens of thousands — or hundreds of thousands — of pounds of debt. If the government wants to assure bankruptcy and financial ruin are less likely to happen, a ban on credit card gambling would be a (drastic but) effective move.
Banning credit cards would not eliminate the problems of gambling compulsion. Players can cause themselves and their family plenty of financial strain by making debit-based deposits. Funding their account with e-vouchers, e-wallets, or direct bank deposits could have a similar effect. Players might not go into debt in a two-day spree, but they could gamble away the monthly mortgage payment, grocery bills, and utility bills.
The point isn’t to end problem gabmling, though. The point is to mitigate the worst depradations of gambling addiction. The harder it is for a person to ruin themselves financially, the longer they have to reconsider their decisions. Or the more time family members and loved ones have to figure out the problem and find ways to end problem gambling. Hotlines, helpline, panic buttons, and self-exclusion lists all work on the same principle.
Jeremy Wright: Gambling Reformer
Since he became the Secretary of State for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, Jeremy Wright has become something of a Tory reformer on the issue of problem gambling. Earlier this year, Wright supported changes that would make it harder for underage UK residents to gamble online.
At the time, Jeremy Wright said, “These significant changes mean operators must check someone’s age before they gamble, and not after. They rightly add an extra layer of protection for children and young people who attempt to gamble online.”
“By extending strong age verification rules to free-to-play games we are creating a much safer online environment for children, helping to shut down a possible gateway to gambling-related harm.”