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Online sports bettors from the United Kingdom are likely to face growing restrictions on the use of credit cards to fund their accounts, based on an update released this week by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC). The Gambling Commission’s affirmation that restrictions are in the UK’s future continues as the regulator grapples with continuing public pressure from gambling foes.
Credit-card use has become the latest hot-button issue for the gambling sector. Though most consumers use credit cards responsibly and for their ease of use, it is technically a form of borrowing, and a large percentage of addictive gamblers dig massive holes of debt through misuse of their cards.
Though the problem exists in land-based shops as well as online, the UKGC is increasing its focus on the online sector because third-party workarounds are also available. Using online e-wallets can help disguise that many online deposits are actually earmarked to be sent to gambling sites. The UKGC is aware of that loophole, and as part of its ongoing research on the credit-card topic, is admitting that it will need to find a way to close or restrict that channel.
According to a Commission statement: “We are persuaded that there are risks of harm associated with using credit cards for online gambling and that we need to act to protect consumers. We are therefore now consulting specifically on two separate options of either banning or restricting the use of credit cards for all forms of remote gambling ie betting, gaming and lotteries.” Still, an outright ban on credit-card use seems unlikely if the Commission can find a less draconic solution.
This week’s UKGC statement follows a months-long call for evidence on the use of credit cards for funding gambling accounts. Most of the 110 responses the Commission received came from anti-gambling entities, and precious few came from gamblers themselves. With that in mind, the UKGC has also announced an “open consultation” on the topic, in which it hopes gambling consumers will share their own opinions, survey-style, on why credit-card use should be allowed. That survey, open to everyone, is found here.
Regarding the battle between anti-gambling forces and the betting industry, the lines are largely set in stone. A separate update offered by the UKGC highlights the main arguments made by both sides. There are three options the UKGC is considering regarding credit-card use:
Proponents of a ban on credit cards offer these points. Most of these come from social organizations who frequently dal with harm caused by addictive gambling behavior (all bullets source UKGC):
Increased limits and restrictions and limits are the middle road, and groups advocating for this include some UK-facing operators. Their arguments include these points:
Those arguing to leave things as they are made these points:
The UKGC noted that these last arguments were made by just a few responding consumers and “a couple of smaller
remote operators,” another indicator that at least some form of restrictions and credit caps are likely.
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