GAMBLERS will no longer be able to use credit cards to place bets under a clampdown on the industry.
Firms flouting the ban, which affects all gambling with some exceptions for lotteries run for good causes, will face ‘tough enforcement action’ from the Gambling Commission when it is introduced on April 14.
The ban will be part of firms’ licence conditions, meaning a breach could result in a warning, suspension, losing that permit, or an unlimited fine.
More than 165,000 customers made £46million of credit card deposits in February last year, according to the regulator’s figures.
Gambling Commission head Neil McArthur said: ‘Credit card gambling can lead to significant financial harm. The ban should minimise the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have.’
SNP MP Ronnie Cowan, who has spoken out about the gambling industry, welcomed the ban but added: ‘We mustn’t take our eyes off the prize and that’s a completely new gambling act.’
The ban follows a cut in the maximum stake on fixed-odds betting terminals from £100 to £2. Tracey Crouch, who resigned as sports minister in 2018 over a delay to limits on the terminals, said: ‘It was clear in my own dealings with those who suffered from gambling addiction that debt accumulated from credit could lead to overwhelming problems.’
Robin Pollard, policy researcher at drug, alcohol and mental health charity Addaction, said: ‘It’s clearly not right profits soar at the expense of people’s well-being. We need to build on this momentum and introduce a formal levy on the industry to raise money for more and better treatment services.’ Industry body the Betting and Gaming Council said its members ‘will go further to study and improve the early identification of those at risk’.
Chairwoman Brigid Simmonds said it was ‘firmly committed to raising standards, safer gambling and change’.
Culture minister Helen Whately said: ‘There is clear evidence of harm from consumers betting with money they do not have, so it is absolutely right that we act decisively to protect them.’ The announcement comes during a period of scrutiny on the gambling sector.
Last week, the Football Association said it would not renew a deal letting gambling websites screen live matches.
‘This is still not enough… addicts will always find ways around it’
A RECOVERING gambling addict, who attempted suicide after spending £250,000, has said a ban on using credit cards is ‘not enough’ to tackle problem betting.
Nick Phillips used three credit cards to place bets when he was suffering with PTSD after serving two years in the armed forces.
Although the ban was a ‘welcome but small step’, he warned: ‘If you have got a credit card with a lot of money on, you can still draw the money out. Gamblers will always find a way around obstacles like that.’ The 44-year-old, who was a £25,000-a-year HGV driver, spent three months in a mental health facility after losing his home and trying to take his own life.
Clean from gambling for two years, the father of two, from Swansea, wants an overhaul of the 2005 Gambling Act and an independent body to oversee regulation. ‘The digital world has taken over and the Act isn’t fit for purpose any more,’ he said.