The British government has announced a ban on credit cards being used for gambling.
From April 14, businesses in the U.K. will be barred from accepting credit cards from consumers placing bets, Britain’s government-run Gambling Commission said Tuesday. The ban will be applied to all forms of gambling, with the exception of National Lottery tickets, which the commission noted were sold in grocery stores and newsagents and would be too difficult for retailers to separate.
The decision to introduce the ban came off the back of two separate government reviews into online gambling and social responsibility in the industry.
According to the Gambling Commission, 24 million adults in Britain gamble, with data from thinktank U.K. Finance showing that 800,000 British people used credit cards to gamble in 2018.
“Credit card gambling can lead to significant financial harm. The ban that we have announced today should minimise the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have,” Neil McArthur, CEO of the Gambling Commission, said in a statement on Tuesday.
“Research shows that 22% of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm,” he added. “We also know that there are examples of consumers who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of credit card availability. 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.”
In an emailed statement, Brigid Simmonds, chairman of industry body the Betting and Gaming Council — which represents 90% of the U.K.’s gambling sector — said the organization was committed to delivering safer gambling.
“We will implement a ban on credit cards which adds to measures such as age-verification, markers of harm and affordability checks, additional funding for research, education and treatment and new codes of conduct to protect the consumer,” she said.
Between 2018 and 2019, revenues in Britain’s gambling industry reached £14.4 billion ($18.7 billion), according to data from the Gambling Commission. The U.K.’s highest-paid CEO in 2019 was Denise Coates, chief executive and founder of online betting company Bet365, who took home a $422 million pay check.