In April 2020, the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) outlawed the use of credit cards as a way for bettors and gamers to make a deposit with an online gambling platform.
Now, 18 months later, the UKGC’s own evaluation on the credit card ban, which admits that more research is required, suggests that it has largely been a success.
The sources that were used to collect data for the regulator’s report come from the Commission’s Online Tracker survey undertaken by Yonder which harvested data from approximately 2,000 adults in the UK over the age of 18.
They do this for each quarter.
They also look into specialised Consumer Voice research that is undertaken by the global research agency 2CV which saw 30 respondents put through an eight day programme, as well as consulting with an unnamed major high street bank.
The ban was introduced as a way of reducing potential gambling harms as betting on credit represents a double threat.
In all, no breaches of the ban were reported by gambling operators.
One, that problem gamblers will get themselves into trouble when betting and also that they will end up in huge debt having wagered borrowed money.
But after a year and a half of credit cards being removed as a deposit option, the measure is proving popular among members of the betting community and is shown to have put a halt to gambling harms.
The evaluation report found that there is support for the ban because it allows punters to bet within their means while staying in control of things.
The findings claim that there has been a drop of around 76% of people who previously gambled with a credit card but now no longer did.
And, while the overall borrowed money numbers don’t appear to be going down, the amount of consumers that have reported betting with alternative forms of borrowed money has at least remained stable.
Neither has there been an increase in illegal money being used to gamble with.
Overdrafts, pay day loans and other loans all also remained stable after the ban began, but there were cases of gamblers loading their debit cards with credit card money.
Some bettors have figured ways around the ban but in general there is a much higher number of people who used to bet using a credit card that now gamble with their own actual funds rather than borrowing or loaning it.
The findings also revealed that fears that bettors would simply make one final mega deposit using a credit card before the ban was imposed were proven to be so far unfounded.
Bank data also showed that, in the first three months after the ban, there was no rise in credit card gamblers using money transfers or cash withdrawals made from credit cards.
The bank report also noted that both the volume and value of gambling transactions with credit cards had been reduced to a significantly low level.
On top of the credit card ban, some e-wallets and alternative money providers pledged to block any gambling transactions made using credit money.
Some e-wallets were initially shown that in the early days there had been a small number of cases where borrowed money had been used, but these were shut down instantly.
Some minor loop holes still exisit, such as funding accounts by Pay By Phone methods, which in effect are a form of credit. Also people can pay mobile phone bills or top up their phones using credit cards. This method fortunately has low limits, though, at least and we are sure the loophole will be closed soon enough.
The betting industry is committed to going further in their drive to make online gambling a much safer zone.
The UKGC will continue to monitor the way people bet in order to ensure that the level of credit being used as betting money doesn’t begin to rise.
The independent research organisation Gambling Research Exchange Ontario (GREO), who have years of experience in gambling research, have commissioned NatCen Social Research to undertake a complete review of the ban on gambling with credit cards.
This comes as part of their initiative to heighten the standards of evaluation of the structures that online betting sites put in place to produce safer gambling environments.
The review is believed to be ready in the first quarter of 2023 after which the Commission will use its findings, combined with those produced as a result of their continued monitoring, to help inform the development of future gambling harm reduction policy.
Interim Chief Executive of the UK Gambling Commission Andrew Rhodes said,
“Protecting consumers is at the heart of everything we do, we introduced this policy as part of our multifaceted work to reduce gambling harm.
“The successful implementation of the ban across the industry and the impact on consumer behaviour and financial spend we have monitored so far is an encouraging sign that the ban has reduced consumer reliance on gambling with borrowed money. We look forward to NatCen’s report on the long-term impacts of the ban and how this can inform our future policies.”