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Gambling Commission mulls ban on using credit cards to fund online betting

The Gambling Commission is concerned players would look to payday loans if credit cards were banned (AFP/Getty Images)

Online betting fans could be barred from using credit cards to fund their gambling.

Industry regulator the Gambling Commission said players “should not gamble with money that they do not have”.

However, it said it wanted to explore all option before imposing such a move – particularly if it could drive the more hardened gamblers into taking out payday loans or such like.

Statistics show that industry profits from online gambling have grown 10% to £4.7bn in the last year, and public participation has increased from 15.5% in 2014 to 18.3% in 2017.

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It is estimated that nine million people across Britain gamble online and betting operators have suggested credit cards are used for between 10% and 20% of deposits online.

The Commission is also proposing:

  • Further protecting children by banning operators from providing free-to-play demo games until  a consumer’s age has been determined
  • Improving the speed and effectiveness of age verification processes
  • Ensuring operators set limits on consumers’ spending until affordability checks have been conducted
  • Tackling unacceptable marketing and advertising and unfair terms, and improving complaints and disputes procedures
  • Strengthening requirements to interact with consumers who may be experiencing, or are at risk of developing, problems with their gambling
Fixed-odds betting terminals such as this roulette game could be subject to a maximum £30 stake (PA)

Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, said: “Britain has the largest regulated online gambling market in the world and we are continually looking for ways to make it even fairer and safer for consumers.

“The proposals we have announced today are intended to protect children better, reduce the risks to vulnerable consumers and build on the measures we already impose on operators to know their customers and intervene at an earlier stage before consumers experience harm.”

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There has been an explosion in the number of online gambling games – from “fruit machine” spin-to-win games, roulette, virtual poker and a host of opportunities to bet online before and during sports matches and events.

The commission’s report says: “Concerns have been raised regarding the offering of credit and allowing gambling on credit cards as it increases the risk that consumers will gamble more than they can afford.

“We support the principle that consumers should not gamble with money that they do not have and plan to conduct further work on gambling using credit in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of associated risks.”

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Last week, the commission recommended that high stakes fixed-odds betting terminals – like those found in bookies up and down the country – should be limited to a £30 maximum stake or lower.

Currently, players can bet up to £100 every 20 seconds on these casino-style games, such as roulette and blackjack.

The maximum stake on “slots games”, like traditional fruit machine games, should be £2, it said.