UK Lib Dems call for ban on credit cards in gambling

19 November 2019

The UK Liberal Democrat Party have announced they will ban the use of credit cards for gambling if the party wins a majority in the country’s upcoming election on 12 December.

Layla Moran, Liberal Democrat shadow spokesperson for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport, said problem gambling had become an epidemic in the UK.

“Problem gambling often has a pernicious and incredibly sad impact on the lives of thousands of people up and down our country,” Moran said. “It is heart-breaking to see many vulnerable people fall further into debt as gambling becomes ever-more consuming.”

Moran added that the current British government, led by the Conservative Party, had been slow to act in response to the effects of problem gambling. She pointed out that the government had initially dragged its heels over the implementation date of the Fixed-Odds Betting Terminal (FOBT ) stake limit, which came into effect earlier this year.

“But, as ever with this mean-spirited government, the Conservatives have neglected the problem,” Moran said. “They had to be dragged kicking and screaming to support the Lib Dem-led initiative to reduce the maximum stake for FOBTs and have no interest in protecting the vulnerable any further.

“Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats will take bold and decisive action to tackle problem gambling.”

In addition, the party said it will increase restrictions on gambling advertising, though it did not elaborate upon the details of this, and introduce a gambling ombudsman.

The Liberal Democrats also called for a compulsory levy on gambling companies to fund research, education and treatment of problem gambling.

Currently, many UK gambling operators pay voluntary contributions for this purpose to gambling charity GambleAware. However, in 2018-19, the charity fell short of its industry donation target of £10m, collecting £9.6m.

In response, the UK’s “Big Five” operators - William Hill, GVC Holdings, Flutter Entertainment, Sky Betting & Gaming and bet365 - announced plans to increase their contribution from 0.1% to 1% of gross gaming yield in no more than five years.

Earlier this month (4 November), the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Gambling-Related Harm called for a series of restrictions on online gambling in the UK, including a ban on the use of credit cards and the introduction of a gambling ombudsman. The Liberal Democrat release, however, said it would simply ban the use of credit cards for gambling, rather than highlighting online gambling.

The APPG recommendations also included a £2 stake limit for online slot games, which drew significant backlash from the industry, including from GVC chief executive Kenny Alexander, who called the suggestion “ridiculous.”

Since the House of Commons voted to hold a general election in December, the Liberal Democrats have received the support of between 11% and 17% of voters. At the 2017 general election, the Liberal Democrats won 12 seats out of the House of Commons’ total of 650  after receiving 7.4% of the national vote.

In October, the Liberal Democrats called for an overhaul of the gaming sector’s approach to tackling responsible gambling, including an end to the slogan “When The Fun Stops, Stop." The party said it believed the slogan was not effective and may be making the situation around prolbem gambling worse.