The United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) has opened a twelve-week window for contributions toward the debate about whether the use of credit cards as a payment method in gambling should be banned or restricted. From 14th August to 6th November, everyone is welcome to submit their opinion on the subject, be it an expert in the industry or a member of general public. The comments will serve in the Commission’s deciding what action should be taken next.
A complete ban is likely to see strong opposition
Even though banning the use of credit cards in gambling altogether was presented as one of the alternatives, remote gaming operators and providers of financial services seem to agree that this would not really solve the issue. As the main concern here is that by using credit cards, punters are essentially gambling borrowed money, prohibiting credit cards entirely would only send these players to borrow from elsewhere, which in turn would require further investigation into the source of their bets on the providers’ side because it could come from a loan, a payday lender or other money lending services.
Second reason why a total ban would not turn out to be the most popular choice is that not everyone who uses credit card does so excessively or inappropriately. Taking their preferred payment method from clients who manage their payments responsibly would mean treating them unfairly.
Some believe the ban might work if accompanied by further restrictions
Since it has been pointed out the credit card ban alone could be circumvented too easily, other voices put forward a suggestion to implement it into a wider scheme which would also forbid funding gambling through loans and overdrafts. This opinion is supported, for example, by the charity Step Change whose data revealed that some people fall into debt borrowing money from multiple sources. Restricting one form of borrowing while leaving the other ones be may thus not have the desired effect.
The Money Charity is of a similar opinion, fearing that not including other measures in the package might allow people to find a way around the prohibition without much effort.
Others resent any regulation at all
Several of the respondents to the initial call for evidence protested against any intervention whatsoever. According to them, other means of funding sometimes cost more than using credit cards. They also claimed anyone who gets a credit card should bear the responsibility for it and for their own borrowing. These opinions came mostly from the public and smaller remote operators.
From the same ranks also came the notion that it should lie with the lenders to check how much their clients are borrowing and whether they will be able to repay it. Stricter rules could apply to obtaining a credit card, rather than to using it to gamble.
All of these suggestions, however, represent only the initial contributions into the much wider debate. It will be up to the UKGC to collect them all, assess them and evaluate, which course of action will be the most appropriate.