Back in April of this year, the Gambling Commission introduced a ban on credit cards – meaning that any consumer gambling could no longer use a credit card as payment. The ban extends to credit card gambling through e-wallets.
At the time, the Commission said that it was an important step forward in reducing harm to those who gamble – with statistics showing that 800,000 individuals in the UK were using credit cards to gamble. Research also highlighted that 22% of online gamblers using credit cards were problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm.
The Commission has now published an interim evaluation of the ban. When monitoring gambling and financial behaviours, the report found:
- support for the ban among consumers has been largely positive, qualitative data from consumers supports the conclusion that the ban helps people to gamble within their means and retain control;
- the proportion of consumers reporting gambling with other forms of borrowed money has remained stable;
- there has been no increase in reports of illegal money lending related to gambling;
- while consumers are aware of ways to legally bypass the ban, far more people who previously gambled with a credit card now gamble with available (not borrowed) funds than other types of borrowed money;
- bank data showed no observed spike for credit card gamblers in money transfers in the three months after the ban; and
- there was no spike in ATM withdrawals from credit cards around the time of the ban.
The report shows a major high-street bank observed the volume and value of gambling transactions with credit cards to the gambling merchant code reduced to a very low level. Continually low-level expenditure to businesses with gambling merchant codes was expected and can be explained by activities outside the scope of the ban such as lotteries and competitions spending.
Additionally, major e-wallet and electronic money providers have blocked gambling transactions if funding originated from credit cards.
A full evaluation of the ban has been scheduled for completion in early 2023 and the Commission will use these findings, along with continued monitoring, to inform future policy development.
The successful implementation of the ban across the industry and the impact on consumer behaviour and financial spend we have monitored so far is an encouraging sign that the ban has reduced consumer reliance on gambling with borrowed money