The UK Gambling Commission has published an interim report indicating that the regulator’s credit card ban is popular among consumers and has resulted in no harmful consequences.
Back in April 2020, the UK regulator introduced a ban on using credit cards to fund online and retail gambling in an effort to add another layer of protection for consumers.
The ban was also intended to add friction to the process of gambling with borrowed money as evidence suggested some gamblers with high levels of debt would use credit cards to gamble.
The Commission’s report
The report was informed using the Commission’s Online Tracker survey, which collects data quarterly from a nationally representative sample of approximately 2,000 adults aged 18+ in Great Britain. The Commission also used Consumer Voice research completed by 2CV, which involved an eight-day online programme with 30 respondents.
According to the Commission, when monitoring gambling and financial behaviours, the report found that support for the ban among consumers has been largely positive and qualitative data from consumers supports the conclusion that the ban helps people to gamble within their means and retain control.
Additionally, the proportion of consumers reporting gambling with other forms of borrowed money has remained stable and there has been no increase in reports of illegal money lending related to gambling.
Although consumers are aware of ways to legally bypass the credit card ban, more people who previously gambled with a credit card now gamble with funds that are not borrowed instead of using other forms of borrowed funds.
Data from banks also noted that there was no observed spike for credit card gamblers in money transfers in the three months after the ban. On top of this, there was no spike in ATM withdrawals from credit cards around the time of the ban.
The Commission’s report also showed that a major high street bank has observed the volume and value of gambling transactions with credit cards to the gambling merchant code reduced to a very low level.
In addition to this, e-wallet and electronic money providers have blocked gambling transactions if funding originated from credit cards.
Going forward the Commission will continue to monitor behaviours to ensure there is not an increase in harmful methods of funding gambling activity.
NatCen Social Research has been commissioned to conduct a full evaluation of the ban by Greo as part of their programme of work to strengthen the evaluation of safer gambling initiatives.
Andrew Rhodes, Interim Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission 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.”