An industry-wide ban on gambling companies that allow consumers to use credit cards for gambling comes into effect on April 14.
The ban, announced Tuesday by the Gambling Commission, applies to all online and offline gambling products with the exception of non-external lotteries.
The announcement follows the assessment of online gambling by the industry watchdog and the government's assessment of slot machines and social responsibility measures.
According to the UK Finance financial institution, 10.5 million adults in the UK gamble online – compared to 24 million adult gamblers in general – with 800,000 consumers using a UK-issued credit card to gamble online in 2018.
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The ban on online gambling using a credit card will take effect from April 14
Neil McArthur, chief executive of the Gambling Commission, said: “Credit card gambling can lead to considerable financial damage. The ban we announced today should minimize the risk of damage to consumers by gambling with money they don't have.
“We know that there are examples of consumers who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of the availability of credit cards.
"There are also indications that the costs charged by credit cards can aggravate the situation because the consumer can try to lose more."
McArthur added: “We realize that this change will cause inconvenience to consumers who use credit cards responsibly, but we are pleased that reducing the risk of damage to other consumers means that action needs to be taken. But we will evaluate the ban and keep a close eye on unintended circumstances for consumers.
“The ban is part of our ongoing work to reduce gambling damage. We must also continue the work we have done with gambling companies and the financial sector to ensure that consumers only gamble with money they can afford. "
Research by the Gokcommissie has shown that 22 percent of online gamblers who use credit cards are considered problem gamblers.
Helen Whately, Secretary of Culture, said: "While millions of responsible gambling, I have also met people whose lives have been turned upside down by gambling addiction.
“There is clear evidence of damage from consumers who bet with money they don't have, so it is perfectly true that we are taking decisive action to protect them.
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Helen Whately: "We will not hesitate to take further action to protect people from gambling damage."
"We will review the Gambling Act to ensure that it is appropriate for the digital age and we will launch a new national addiction strategy in 2020.
"We will not hesitate to take further action to protect people from gambling damage."
GambleAware, a charity dedicated to minimizing gambling-related damage, welcomed the performance of the Gambling Commission on the use of credit cards by consumers.
Marc Etches, CEO of GambleAware, said: "It is essential that every effort is made to protect those at risk of gambling damage, so we welcome the decision of the Gambling Commission to extend the ban on the use of credit cards for online gambling and offline.
"Gambling is a public health issue and mobile technology gives people access to gambling anytime, anywhere. Anyone who chooses to gamble should be able to do so in a safe environment where the risks and available support options are crystal clear. "
The Gambling Commission has also announced changes to the license terms at all online gambling companies that are required to participate in the GAMSTOP program and offer their customers the service from March 31.
This requirement means that consumers can exclude themselves from more than 200 online operators through a request to GAMSTOP – a service that has been used by more than 118,000 people since 2018.
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Credit card ban: is applied both online and offline
Fiona Palmer, CEO of GAMSTOP, said: "We have worked very hard over the past two years to ensure that GAMSTOP becomes a trusted, secure and independent service that helps anyone who has problems with gambling exclude themselves from most online sites.
"We will continue to work closely with regulators, operators and charities to ensure that we offer a simple, effective self-exclusion program for consumers."
Brigid Simmonds OBE, chairman of the Betting and Gaming Council, added: “The Betting and Gaming Council is committed to raising standards, safer gambling and change, and therefore we strongly welcome the requirement for all companies to become members of GamStop as part of our continued determination to raise industry standards.
"We will introduce a ban on credit cards that will contribute to measures such as age verification, markers of damage and affordability checks, additional funding for research, education and treatment and new codes of conduct to protect consumers."
Shares in GVC Holdings, the owner of Coral and Ladbrokes, William Hill and 888 Holdings, fell between 9% and 3% on Tuesday.
According to analyst Goodbody, Gaming & Leisure, the ban on credit card use for gamblers is not a shock for companies and should have a small effect on sales in the short term.
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Online gambling: credit card ban to help problem gamblers
It said: "In general, the announcement of a ban on online gambling credit cards in the UK is well marked and should not come as a surprise. All operators covered by our coverage have announced that their credit card exposure in the UK is centered in terms of their deposits.
"Although the Gambling Commission has also announced a ban on e-Wallet gambling transactions that are funded with a credit card, we do not expect this to be a significant headwind. We see room for some of those who use credit cards to deposit to migrate to other payment processes such as payment cards.
"The most likely effect is that this will be a small headwind for UK online revenue operators in 2020. On the positive side, the use of credit cards for online gambling was an important negative point suggested by anti-gambling campaigners, so the resolution can be a good move for the industry. "
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FIRST PUBLISHED 07.44 AM, JANUARY 14, 2020