Gambling in UK on Credit Cards to Be Banned in 2020

Gambling in UK on Credit Cards to Be Banned in 2020

The UK authorities keep combating the negative impact of gambling on its citizens. The UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is imposing a ban on gambling using credit cards in April 2020. Why is it crucial?

The UK gambling sector has been developing for more than 10 years. In 2005, the country adopted the gambling law designed along with gambling industry players and government officials. The document regulates all types of gambling activities, including lotteries, totes, casinos, slot machines etc.

The law became effective in September 2007 because of the time required to establish UKGC and communicating of all the rules and standards to entrepreneurs and everyone desiring to set up their own gambling business in Great Britain.

Afterwards, the government repeatedly adopted additional regulatory provisions to ensure efficient industry operations, protect consumer rights and prevent problem gambling. One of the recent introductions is the law prohibiting credit cards to gamble.

Gambling on credit cards
to be banned in April

UKGC, an official regulator controlling the majority of local gambling operators, is responsible for all gambling restrictions and permits in England. An exception is sports betting controlled by the Sports Betting Intelligence Unit, a separate division of the Commission.

UKGC consists of nine core members and the head. In general, there are 280 people with some of them being engaged in regions. The Commission issues licenses and draws up annual reports for the government. Besides, it has the right to conduct inspections, impose penalties on law violations and create new legal standards.

In the past year, UKGC decided to forbid gambling businesses allowing UK customers to bet using credit cards. Prior to this, the regulatory body carried out corresponding research and advice taking four months.

According to UK Finance, 800,000 clients apply credit cards to enjoy games of chance. UKGC conducted an individual study showing that 22% of online users utilizing this payment method are gambling addicts. Their condition can grow worse because of the possibility to play on credit money.

Given the circumstances, UKGC has introduced a ban to come into force on April 14, 2020. It is applied to all online and offline games of chance, save for land-based lottery facilities. The law does not allow to use credit cards for gambling and betting purposes in order to protect the vulnerable population and prevent gambling addiction.

Reasons for the statutory
ban on credit cards

UKGC regularly makes investigations and collects data on problem gambling in the country from other organizations. According to official figures, the UK successfully combats the infringement of user rights and gambling addiction progress.

A survey by the National Healthcare Service revealed that 39% of users aged 16 years participated in gambling in 2018. 8% of respondents bet on sports while 3% employed slot machine services. The common level of problem gambling was 0.5%.

New explorations show that 22% of online players exploiting credit cards suffer from gambling addiction or tend to it. Some users face heavy debts to banking structures.

Neil McArthur, the head of UKGC in the United Kingdom, asserts that credit card gambling can cause significant financial harm to vulnerable segments of the population. Addicts play for money that they actually do not have, escalating their financial situation and encouraging problem gambling.

The expert supposes that a certain percent of users can gamble using credit cards because it is convenient, thus they will be dissatisfied with the prohibition. Despite this fact, the law should be necessarily adopted due to pretty high risks for other people. Neil McArthur assures that UKGC will thoroughly monitor the introduction of the credit card ban and related gambling market changes.

Besides the news about credit card prohibition, the UKGC’s chief executive said that the authorities would also adopt other measures for protecting consumers from the negative impact of this activity and reducing the gambling harm. Therefore, the commission has been long cooperating with gambling operators and financial sector representatives, specifying and developing the necessary legislative framework.

Operation of the law

The ban on credit cards in this field covers all types of offline and online gambling. At the same time, it is not referred to lotteries where payments are made by customers, e.g. land-based ticket sales outlets. The UK allows to buy them in supermarkets and newspaper shops among other products. Thus, the restrictions of this aspect would lead to difficulties in operations of similar sales points.

The exception is caused by the fact that national lottery retailers strictly observe the rules of problem gambling combating and know how to prevent the overindulgence of gambling. As to the potential danger of national lotteries, they account for the lowest level of gambling addiction – only 1%.

Major lottery operators have already restricted credit card transactions and introduced voluntarily measures for interrupting such settlements. The national lottery no longer accepts credit payments to purchase tickets and participate in online drawings.

GAMSTOP multi-technological
self-exclusion system

Over the past few years, UKGC has been designing and implementing various gambling restriction rules. The most significant ones include age verification of users desiring to obtain access to online games of chance. Moreover, the authorities have integrated individual free game limits, formed advertising campaign standards and elaborated the complete guide to data that gambling operators should provide to potential clients.

From March 31, all UK-based online operators should register in a multi-technological self-exclusion system called GAMSTOP. It is designed for online gambling resources, allowing customers to limit themselves to games by different operators by submitting a single application.

All UK gambling providers can accept self-restriction applications from users. With addressing each particular operator being troublesome, UKGC has simplified the process by collecting all of them in one system. Submitting a request there, a user will be blocked by all gambling operators at once.

Neil McArthur from UKGC stresses that a lot of companies have joined GAMSTOP on a voluntary basis, but it will be a compulsory condition since March 31. He believes that companies should do their best to fight against problem gambling and reduce gambling risks.

Similar limitations are a part of the program of the National strategy aimed at decreasing gambling harm. GAMSTOP will be applied with other ways of access restriction such as gambling ban software and payment card blocking.

Other restrictions
for gambling operators

The UK has been adopting severe gambling restrictions since 2014. The country has stipulated clear anti-money laundering principles. In 2018, the government approved the rules of Fixed Odds Betting Terminals (FOBT), establishing the upper limit of bets. The online gambling tax has increased by 6% since April 2019.

Last year, the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) conducted official meetings with banking facilities and gambling operators. They discussed how companies in England could apply new technologies and user data to prevent dangerous gambling promotion and addiction among inhabitants. The credit card ban was reviewed as well.

The majority of local large banks have been long taking measures allowing clients to forbid gambling transactions. It can be done via mobile apps. Government officials have secured commitment to leading gambling operators of the UK market and received 100 million pounds sterling for treating gaming addicts.


Gambling in Great Britain is one of the most developed and seamlessly regulated industries despite the numerous restrictions. This is because passed laws are constantly advanced in accordance with the current market and population demands while UKGC collaborates with operators and financial institutions in terms of imposing new rules.

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