For months we have been expecting the UK Gambling Commission to make a move that will help tackle the issues of problem gambling and they have now announced what they are going to do. From April 14 2020, they are going to introduce a ban on betting with credit cards in the UK. This is a big move and one that is seen to be the start of what they hope will be steps to improve gambling and put an end to problem gambling in the UK.
Plans for this move were originally released in the summer of 2019 when they had a 12-week discussion period with a variety of people over the use of credit cards on gambling websites. From that, it was agreed that the ban would be brought into play, with a date now given.
As things stand now, whether it is betting in a bookmakers, or placing sports bets and playing casino games online, you are allowed to make a deposit to pay for bets using a credit card. This is effectively betting with money that you don’t have, which was highlighted as a key area in terms of problem gambling, and a reason why many people went on a downward spiral.
Credit card gambling has been spoken about for a while now and has been a key part of changes put forward to make the Gambling Act that was created in the 2000s work better. However, these moves will put an end to credit card gambling before the Act has been changed, so people will see that as a move before it was forced by parliament.
The basic reasoning behind the move is to stop people from gambling with money they don’t have. Right now, and in the past, if people want a bet and they have no money they can make a deposit using a credit card and bet with those funds. A win could be withdrawn back out, but a loss would mean someone who has no money spare to bet with now has a bigger or new credit card debt that needs paying off.
When thinking of it this way, it is easy to see how people can get into troubles with their gambling by using credit cards to bet as the last resort. There is a chance that this could move onto the next level and also include people being unable to deposit from bank accounts when they are in their overdraft, although something like this would be at least another year or two down the line.
This builds on the back of banks being behind the moves and helping regulators with money transactions. Both HSBC and Halifax have a gambling freeze available to punters that allows them to stop their credit card accounts being used to make gambling deposits for a short period of time to cool off. This means no chasing losses and no betting in the heat of the moment when people are not in the right frame of mind, which is a big time for people getting into trouble.
When the ban comes in this is no longer valid, but it would be no surprise to see these two and possibly other banks use their powers to offer this service on current accounts as well to those who want it.
There is a couple of potential risks here, one from a betting point of view and another from a money point of view, and these need to be carefully watched and managed moving forward.
From a betting point of view, will this simply push people away from regulated bookmakers and force them to bet with unlicensed operators who will still accept credit cards from UK players? These are not safe to bet with, which is why they don’t have a license for accepting bets in the UK and should be avoided at all costs. Hopefully, this doesn’t happen, but if it does then it is likely that the UK will need to regulate underground and illegal betting more to prevent people from using their credit cards on those sites.
The second potential risk here is that people will borrow money from elsewhere. The payday loan market is huge in the UK, with high-interest rates on small loans to get people through until payday. Will gamblers instead turn to these kinds of companies to get a small amount of money sent to them so that they do have something they can bet with. This is pretty much exactly the same as credit card betting, but there is no way to regulate or stop this. Those taking part in this are still using money they don’t have to bet with, but instead of using a credit card they are taking out a high-interest loan to do it.
For those out there that place bets with credit cards and are unsure what to do in the future, there are many people you can talk to about your gambling. If you feel like you are having a tough time and need some advice then we have many different charities and companies that are set up to help people just like you. The biggest is probably Be Gamble Aware, but there are other and each one has a number of trained people at the end of a phone who can listen to your problems and give you advice on how to make things better.
While problem gambling is tough on anyone, the good news is that this country is set up brilliantly to deal with it, we have a fantastic range of options for those in trouble. The hardest part is, of course, the first part, which is speaking to someone, but there are people out there who are ready to listen and who will help you get over your troubles.
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