A Christian charity has welcomed the banning of credit card gambling as a “proactive and positive step”.
From 14th April, people wanting to place bets online will have to do so by using either a debit card or through cash deposited into an account, following a major shake-up of rules announced by the industry regulator.
The credit card ban affects all gambling, with the exception of the National Lottery, the Gambling Commission said.
It follows concerted efforts by the Government to address the issue of problem gambling.
Christian Action Research & Education (CARE) welcomed the “excellent” announcement, noting that it is a “positive step” in helping to reduce the harms of gambling.
“This proactive and positive step will go some way to helping reduce these harms,” James Mildred, CARE’s communications manager, told The Catholic Universe.
“We look forward to 2020 being a year of continued progress towards reforming our outdated gambling laws and bringing the betting industry more into line.”
Mr Mildred called for a mandatory levy to be introduced on gambling firms and insisted that action also needs to be taken on shirt sponsorship across football leagues.
“Problem gambling leads to relationship troubles, job losses, family breakdown and in extreme cases, suicide as well,” he warned.
“The Government has promised a review of the 2005 Gambling Act and we will be making the case then for significant changes to ensure stronger protections for those with gambling addictions.”
Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, said: “Credit card gambling can lead to significant financial harm.
“The ban that we have announced today should minimise the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have.”
Mr McArthur said the ban needed to be backed by other action, while SNP MP Ronnie Cowan, who has spoken out about the gambling industry, added: “This is welcomed but we mustn’t take our eyes off the prize and that’s a completely new gambling act.”
The Government has come under pressure to introduce bans for the use of credit cards for online bets over the past two years by charity groups including Gamble Aware and Citizens Advice.
In 2018, the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board (RGSB) called on the Gambling Commission to consider restrictions on the use of “borrowed money” for online gambling.
An estimated 24 million adults gamble in Great Britain, with 10.5 million of those placing bets online.
It is thought that around 800,000 people use credit cards to gamble, with the regulator’s own data showing that more than 165,000 customers made £46 million worth of credit card deposits in February last year.
The announcement is the latest blow to gambling businesses, after the Government introduced a crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which saw the maximum stake for bets cut from £100 to £2.
Picture: Credit cards (SOPA Images/SIPA USA/PA).