UKGC Evaluates Credit Card Gambling Ban, More Research Coming

The UK Gambling Commission has provided an assessment in which it marked the success of imposing a blanket ban on credit cards used for the purposes of gambling. With the ban in place for over a year now, the regulator has been able to gauge its impact as well as assess whether some early-day fears have come to fruition.

A Ban That Served Its Purpose

The regulator reached out via Yonder, interviewed 2,000 adults and hosted in-person meetings. All participants were individuals who had gambled in the past 12 months, a period that was covered by the credit card ban.

Initial findings were immediately reassuring, with the UKGC citing evidence by high street banks that saw an immediate decline in the use of credit cards for the purposes of gambling. Banks had followed through with a more delicate aspect of the ban, i.e. ensuring that e-wallets loaded with credit cards had also been monitored for gambling-related activity.

Commenting on the latest data collected by the survey, gambling commission boss Andrew Rhodes, said:

“The successful implementation of the ban across the industry and the impact on consumer behavior and financial spend we have monitored so far is an encouraging sign that the ban has reduced consumer reliance on gambling with borrowed money.”

UKGC CEO Andrew Rhodes

While credit cards were removed from the equation other questionable funding practices remained, such as the use of payday loans and quick credits that usually come with higher interest rates and predatory practices by the bodies issuing them.

Players Stop to Borrow Funds, Almost

Interestingly, though, the UKGC has been able to find out that 76% of people who used to play with borrowed funds did not do so anymore. However, another 15% continued to borrow funds, arguing that the ban had forced them to. Another 9% said that they borrowed funds, but it was not necessarily because of the ban.

The regulator has acknowledged that it would need to monitor whether gamblers have been pushed to borrow funds from illegal sources. A review by the Illegal Money Lending Team has established no such evidence, but the UKGC has said it would need to remain vigilant.

The UKGC has not been able to identify whether the credit card ban has had an impact on the black market. According to the regulator, the individual’s motivation to turn to black-market options was “rarely known.”

More Work Needs to Be Done

Furthermore, the UKGC acknowledged that while the ban was a good way to prevent reckless gambling, there were fairly well-known workarounds. In light of this, an individual who was motivated enough would find it fairly easy to use borrowed money to continue gambling.

To continue to probe the implications of the credit card ban for gambling, more research will be performed by NatCen. The NatCen survey should be completed at some point in early 2023 with the UKGC using its data to help motivate its choices in future regulatory changes.

Prior to the ban, some 10.5 million people in the UK were gambling, of whom 800,000 turned to a credit card. Based on research at the time, 22% of all consumers using a credit card to gamble were qualified as problem gamblers. In October, Ireland agreed to impose a credit card ban of its own.

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