Credit Card Ban in Gambling: A Silver Bullet Against Pathological Gambling?


Posted: February 1, 2020

Updated: February 26, 2020

  • The UK Gambling Commission banned the credit card payment method
  • All forms of online and offline gaming fall under the restriction
  • Participation in GamStop is compulsory for all online betting platforms in the UK
  • Online betting sites are expected to comply with requirements by the end of March 2020
Image source: Agência Brasil / CC BY 3.0 BR via Wikimedia Commons

The UK Gambling Commission announced that starting from 14, April, credit card payment will no longer be an option for almost all forms of gambling. The Safer Online Gambling Group state that the ban will minimize financial harm for problem gamblers. Along with a credit card ban in gambling, online betting sites in the UK will have to sign up for to GamStop self-exclusion scheme.

Why did the UK Government introduce the credit card ban in gambling?

The policy implemented in 2014 helped the British Government to create the largest regulated online gambling market in the world. Based on Gambling Commission research, the UK gambling industry created $18.7 billion in revenue between 2018 and 2019. Moreover, Denise Coates, chief executive of Bet365 is the highest-paid CEO in the country, with a $422 million pay package.

Credit card ban in gambling
Will credit cards ever come back to the world of gambling?

Although the industry is still growing at incredible speed, the government decided to introduce further regulations. Neil McArthur, the CEO of the Gambling Commission stated that the credit card ban in gambling will help in preventing excessive debt accumulation. Research conducted prior to the implementation of the ban demonstrated that 22% of pathological gamblers use credit cards.

Both online gambling and land-based gambling fall under the restricted category. The only exception is lottery tickets – people can still use credit cards in case they buy lottery tickets in a grocery store.

However, 78% of people who gamble occasionally will also have to use alternative methods of payment. And despite the credit card payment is probably the most convenient option available, online casinos in the UK will have to come up with another payment method.

Participation in GamStop scheme is now obligatory

Starting from 31, March, online sportsbook sites in the UK will have to take part in the self-exclusion scheme GamStop. The scheme helps gambling addicts to restrict themselves from more than 200 online casinos and betting sites. The facility helps users to set up the exclusion period, making a first step towards stopping problem gambling. The GamStop subscription used to be voluntary.  Nonetheless, all of the online gambling operators in the UK will have to sign up for GamStop until the end of March. Offshore gambling platforms don’t fall under restrictions.

To date, such gambling sites as 888 Casino, Unibet Casino and Bet365 Casino are already on GamStop.

Expected outcomes

Credit cards ban in the gambling industry won’t magically solve all of the existing problems. Yet Gambling Commission representatives believe that this is an important step in creating an environment for safer gambling.

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