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UK’s Ban On Credit Cards

As of 14 April 2002, those living in the UK are unable to gamble online using credit cards. This ban was initially announced back in January earlier this year and has now been in place for about a week, as of the time of writing. It was decided on by the UK Gambling Commission along with the Department for Culture, Media and Sport. Its aim is to help prevent people from spending too much money gambling online and getting into problems such as debt. It comes as more people are practising online gambling due to the COVID-19 lockdown, though the fact that its introduction has coincided with the lockdown is unintentional.

Details Of The Ban

Since the ban came into place, UK residents are not allowed to use credit cards at online casinos or sportsbooks; they also can’t use them at land-based casinos or betting shops. Both types of transaction – deposits and withdrawals – are included in the ban, as is using a credit card through an e-wallet. In short, if you’re practising any form of gambling with real money, you can no longer use your credit card. Instead, you have to use a different type of payment method.

Exceptions to the ban are lottery tickets and scratchcards. You can still visit an authorised retailer, such as your local newsagent, and purchase tickets for lotteries and scratchcards with your credit card; you can also buy them online with your card.

Why Credit Cards?

Research carried out by the UK Gambling Commission found that credit cards were being used by around 800,000 people in the country for online gambling. What was also found was that nearly a quarter (22%) of all problem online gamblers used credit cards to fund their gambling activity. Credit cards are the focus of the ban because they let you spend money you don’t have. When using one, you can spend up to a set limit and pay it back at a later date. A lot of the time, there’s interest that can build up over time. Other payment methods don’t let you use money you don’t have; once you’ve run out of funds, you have no choice but to stop spending. Those who are addicted to gambling want to keep betting; credit cards let them borrow the money to do just that, even if they can’t pay it back.

Effects On Online Casinos

The ban shouldn’t have too much of an effect on online casinos. Most of them already accept a number of different payment methods. Therefore, those who are looking to sign up will simply have one less option to consider. As for those who have already signed up and registered a credit card, they’ll have to have their identity verified again. This is because when casinos carry out checks on your identity, they look at the details logged with your payment provider. Thankfully, the process of getting verified doesn’t usually take too long. For most who have deposited with credit cards in the past, going through the process should only be a minor inconvenience.

Pros And Cons

The ban’s main advantage is that it’s making gambling safer and preventing people from coming to harm and racking up huge debts. It should go some way to bringing down the numbers of those negatively effected by gambling. However, a criticism of the ban is that it isn’t a blanket ban on credit card use since it doesn’t cover lotteries and scratchcards. These aren’t as problematic as casino games and sports betting, they’re still forms of gambling that people can spend real money on. Another negative point to make is that the ban might result in a decrease in gambling revenue. While it may well help the player, it may not be so beneficial to the operator looking to make a profit.