The UK Credit Card Gambling Ban – What It Means for You

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If there’s one thing that everyone in the world of gambling can agree on, it’s that responsible gambling is important. Nobody wants to see a problem gambler get into debt by betting more than they can afford to lose.

The UK Gambling Commission has shown itself to be serious about protecting problem gamblers since its inception. After issuing several high-profile gamblers operators with multimillion-pound fines for not properly protecting vulnerable players, the UKGC is about to go a step further and ban all gambling on credit cards in the United Kingdom.

In this post, I’ll explain when the new regulations kick in, what they mean for you as a player, how you can deposit instead, and what some people in the gambling industry think about this credit card ban.

What You Need to Know About the Ban

The UKGC officially announced these measures in January, but the new rules take effect starting April 14th. When they do, gambling operators across the country will no longer be allowed to accept deposits made by credit cards. Debit cards will remain unaffected.

After studying the matter, the UKGC found that of Britain’s 24 million gamblers, 10.5 million of whom gamble online, around 800,000 regularly use credit cards to gamble. It also stated that 22% of people who use credit cards to gamble online are classed as problem gamblers.

The announcement comes after too many stories of problem gamblers racking up huge amounts of debt on their credit cards.

Neil McArthur, the chief of the UKGC, said that he was aware that this move will inconvenience some players, but that it was justified in the interests of harm reduction. Protecting vulnerable people is one of the UKGC’s stated aims, so this fits in with that.

Not Everybody Is Enthusiastic

However, not everyone agrees that the move will have that much of an impact. Kamran Hedjri, who is on the board of the financial services firm PXP Financial, called the ban “overrated” since most players use other payment methods.

Mr. Hedjri said that his company conducted research at ICE London and gained insight into the payment habits of several generations of British gamblers. While 59% of Generation X gamblers use credit cards, the numbers are significantly lower in both the Millennial and Generation Z gamblers.

This indicates that credit cards are no longer the most popular way to pay for online gambling activities. However, it’s worth noting that the UKGC’s aim is to protect problem gamblers, a significant percentage of whom do use credit cards to gamble online.

Despite his reservations, Mr. Hedjri did say that he thought this was a “good idea” and that he and his form supported it.

UKGC Continues Tough Line Against Operators

The UKGC has never taken a light-touch approach when operators have violated their license terms. Over the years, they have dished out several large fines to some of the biggest brands in betting.

  • In 2017, they fined 888 Holdings £7.8 million for failing to protect players who had self-excluded, among other misdeeds.
  • William Hill felt the UKGC’s wrath in 2018 when it had to pay £6.2 million for failing to meet its social responsibility obligations. Mr. Green, which is also a William Hill brand, got hit with a £3 million fine this year for failing to protect problem gamblers.
  • The UKGC hit Caesars Entertainment UK with a £13 million fine recently as part of its wider crackdown on problem gambling.

Plenty of critics point out that these fines are minuscule for massive gambling operators. Still, they’re large enough to sting, and the bad press that typically follows is something most UK gambling operators will want to avoid.

What the Ban Means for You as a Player

It means that you won’t be able to borrow money from credit card companies to gamble online. However, there are still plenty of other ways to make deposits and withdrawals at your favourite online casinos and betting sites. Let’s cover some of these now.

Debit Cards

Debit cards won’t be banned. You can still whip out a plastic card from your wallet and bet, but you’ll have to have the money already in your account.

Betting with debit cards has advantages and disadvantages. I’d like to point a few of those out to help you decide if this is the right casino payment method for you.

Advantages:

  1. Fast deposits that arrive instantly
  2. Ease of use; enter your card number and off you go
  3. Almost everyone has a debit card or can get one

Disadvantages:

  1. Danger of storing card data online
  2. Gambling transactions appear on your bank statements
  3. Withdrawals can take between three to five business days

PayPal

PayPal is a digital wallet (e-wallet) that you can load funds to before spending online. You can log into your PayPal account, view your balance, and send and receive money instantly.

Like every other payment method, gambling with PayPal has its pros and cons. These could equally apply to other e-wallets like Neteller and Skrill.

Advantages:

  1. Instant deposits and withdrawals
  2. Reduces the risk of fraud and card theft
  3. Free and has zero subscription fees

Disadvantages:

  1. Not every gambling site accepts PayPal
  2. You will have to create another online account
  3. Some people have experienced account freezes and closures

Paysafecard

Paysafecard is a voucher-based payment system. It’s the closest thing to using cash on the internet as you can get. When you use Paysafecard, you buy a voucher from a shop and enter the PIN online. The money is then transferred to your gambling account.

Advantages:

  1. No need to store payment details online
  2. Almost zero risk of fraud or theft
  3. Paysafecard is widely available and accepted

Disadvantages:

  1. Your money is gone if you lose your voucher
  2. Can’t be used for withdrawals since it’s a voucher
  3. Maximum voucher value of £175 won’t suit high rollers

Mobile Payments

You can play at UK gambling sites and charge it to your mobile phone. Mobile payment processors like BOKU enable you to charge goods and services to your mobile phone bill.

The UKGC is likely to clamp down on this in the future since it’s a way for many problem gamblers to borrow money they don’t have, but it’s still available as a UK casino payment method for now.

Advantages:

  1. Almost no risk of fraud since you don’t store payment details online
  2. Wide accessibility; almost everyone has a mobile phone
  3. You can gamble before payday and settle the bill later

Disadvantages:

  1. Easy to spend money you can’t afford to lose
  2. You can’t withdraw by BOKU or most other mobile payment methods
  3. Maximum deposit value is £10 per transaction/£30 per day

Fast Bank Transfers

Bank transfers have traditionally been slow and cumbersome, and for that reason, most casino players have given them a miss. However, there’s a new breed of fast bank transfer payment methods like Trustly that make depositing and withdrawing at UK gambling sites a breeze.

Advantages:

  1. Little risk of fraud since Trustly acts as the middleman
  2. You can play at no registration casinos using Trustly
  3. Fast deposits and withdrawals are typically instant

Disadvantages:

  1. Not every UK bank has partnered with Trustly

There aren’t many other disadvantages. Trustly and other similar fast bank transfer payment methods are one of your best options.

Summary

As of this month, gambling with credit cards in the UK will be a thing of the past. I, for one, welcome this step. First, most credit card companies charge ridiculous interest rates that can make it difficult for gamblers to repay debts, and second, most of them also fee-gouge when it comes to gambling transactions.

This should protect vulnerable players and hurt greedy credit card companies. That’s a double win as far as I’m concerned. Choose one of these other casino payment methods instead. Trust me, you’ll be much better off!

Oliver Hughes

Based out of London, I began freelance writing for the UK section of GamblingSites.org in October of 2019. Having worked in the gambling industry for over 10 years, I now have the pleasure of adding this site to my list of accomplishments as a casino writer. ...

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