UKGC to Ponder Credit Card Restrictions for Online Gambling
In another effort to increase its control over and limit access to possible avenues of problem gambling behavior, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission has announced that it will hold a 12-week consultation beginning in mid-August to decide if it will recommend any actions concerning the use of credit cards by United Kingdom punters to fund their online-gambling accounts.
The potential for problem-gambling abuses of credit has been on the UKGC’s topic agenda for several years. The upcoming consultation, which will include discussions with leading UK-licensed sites, follows a “call for evidence” that the Gambling Commission elicited in February. Eventually, the Gambling Commission will likely recommend a preferred option, which will range from the extremes of doing nothing to banning gambling online with plastic. More likely, though, is that the UKGC will recommend a middle route, trying to craft a solution that provides a preventive framework designed to stop credit abusers from reckless behavior utilizing borrowed funds.
According to a Gambling Commission statement issued yesterday, “… the public and all other stakeholders will be consulted on other options, including restricting the use of credit cards. The Commission will then take the most appropriate course of action in view of any evidence obtained by this consultation, alongside data already submitted.”
Though stories involving credit-card abuse for gambling purposes haven’t generated quite the headlines of some of the UK’s fraud and embezzlement cases, they still represent a known facet of problem-gambling behavior. As such, gambling-related credit abuse has been on the UKGC’s list of action topics for several years.
Paul Hope, the Executive Director at the Gambling Commission, said: “Gambling with borrowed money is known to be a risk factor for consumers, so we think there is a need for action. This consultation will help us decide what that action should be.”
February’s call for evidence has already provided a framework which the UKGC will use to evaluate and render a decision on the use of credit cards to gamble online. That framework will include the following:
- Alternative forms of borrowing: if action is taken on credit cards alone then consumers experiencing harm may use other forms of borrowing to fund their gambling, such as overdrafts and loans. It is therefore vital that the financial and gambling sectors work to protect customers from harm where they gamble with other forms of borrowed money.
- E-Wallets: where online gambling deposits are made through some e-wallets, operators have no means of knowing which method the payment originated from. Any future proposals would therefore require e-wallet providers to take the necessary action to support any regulatory measures introduced.
- Further evidence: the Commission wants to obtain further evidence about consumers’ motivations for using credit cards to gamble, and any specific benefits of using them. The call for evidence highlighted very little in this regard. In aiming to prevent harm from gambling with credit cards, the Commission is clear that it must take account of the impact of a ban or restrictions on gamblers who are not experiencing gambling harms.