Finance giants vow to join responsible gambling push

21 February 2019

UK’s leading credit providers have vowed to play their part in minimising problem gambling after the Gambling Commission announced the launch of a consultation on gambling with credit.

The regulator for Great Britain’s gambling industry has called on stakeholders including gambling operators and financial institutions, as well as debt relief charities and individual consumers to provide evidence about the use of credit in gambling.

The Commission, which has already said it backs restrictions on credit in principle, said the findings of the consultation would be used to consider whether regulatory interventions such as restricting or prohibiting gambling via credit cards are necessary.

It is requesting data and evidence to help develop a comprehensive picture of gambling with credit cards, including the scale of their use for gambling and the risks associated.

UK Finance, a body which represents more than 250 firms across the UK’s finance and banking industry including Barclaycard, Capital One and Citigroup, told iGamingBusiness.com it would be one of the stakeholders that will be submitting evidence before the May 16 deadline.

“The banking industry wants to help customers avoid the risk of gambling-related harm,” a spokesperson said. “The industry continues to liaise closely with government, the Gambling Commission and consumer groups to build on existing initiatives by a number of credit card issuers, including schemes that allow customers to block the use of their card for online gambling.

“We look forward to further engagement on this issue and will be responding to the Gambling Commission’s call for evidence in due course.”

The consultation comes after the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board last year recommended the restriction of consumers’ ability to gamble online with credit, including prohibiting gambling online with credit cards.

The Commission has already outlined its support for the principle that “consumers should not gamble with money they do not have”.

It added: “We said we would consider restricting or prohibiting the use of credit cards for gambling, but that we would explore the consequences of doing so. We therefore committed to conduct further work in this area.”

Reacting to the launch of the consultation, the Remote Gambling Association told iGamingBusiness.com: "Over the coming weeks the RGA will work closely with the Gambling Commission to gather the information and evidence needed.

"We support proposals that payment providers should offer their customers the ability to ask for gambling transactions to be blocked on their accounts, some banks already offer this and credit card payments could be included in that option."

Charity GambleAware, which has this week launched a new Safer Gambling Campaign, reiterated its call for a ban on credit usage in gambling.

“We have been calling for a ban on the use of credit cards online for some time now," said Marc Etches, chief executive of GambleAware.

"Gambling on the basis of credit increases the risk that consumers will gamble with more money than they can afford. The risk is further elevated by the fact that there are no statutory limits to stakes and prizes online as there are for other forms of gambling in Britain."

“We have been calling for a ban on the use of credit cards online for some time now. Gambling on the basis of credit increases the risk that consumers will gamble with more money than they can afford. The risk is further elevated by the fact that there are no statutory limits to stakes and prizes online as there are for other forms of gambling in Britain.

Meanwhile, the Commission has also instigated a call for evidence for gambling businesses to outline how they will meet the challenges set out in the government’s Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures over the protections for players using Category B gaming machines.

The Commission said data indicates that the risks associated with Category B1 and B3 machines are broadly similar to the risks with B2 machines at a £100 maximum stake – with the Commission last year advising the government that it wants to explore further player protection options. Those options include tracking play, using time and monetary limits and alerts, and communicating messages about gambling safely.

Paul Hope, an executive director at the Gambling Commission, said: “We are exploring measures that could help reduce the risk of harm to consumers who use their credit cards to gamble online, and to those who play on all Category B machines.

“We want consumers, gambling firms and other interested parties to have their say and provide evidence that will help us make gambling safer.”