Gamblers ‘could be prevented from using their credit cards to place bets’ if betting companies and banks don’t take action to protect the vulnerable
- Jeremy Wright will discuss use of credit cards with betting companies and banks
- Industry regulator Gambling Commission to launch a review on the practice
- There are 430,000 ‘problem gamblers’ in the UK and around two million who are at risk of developing an addiction, it said
Gamblers could be prevented from using their credit cards to place bets if firms don’t take action to protect the vulnerable, the Culture Secretary has warned.
Cards are used to wager as much as £8.6billion each year and ministers are concerned that it allows addicts to gamble money they cannot afford to lose.
Jeremy Wright, the Culture Secretary, announced yesterday that he is calling in betting companies and banks to discuss gamblers’ use of credit cards. Campaigners reacted positively, saying betting on credit puts gamblers at risk.
Jeremy Wright, the Culture Secretary, announced yesterday that he is calling in betting companies and banks to discuss gamblers’ use of credit cards
Pressure is now building on the bookmakers. Next month the Gambling Commission, the industry’s regulator, will launch a review to hear evidence on the practice, which could lead to tougher regulations.
Mr Wright said he would discuss credit card gambling with bookmakers and banks ahead of the regulator’s review.
He added: ‘Protecting people from the risks of gambling-related harm is vital.
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‘All businesses with connections to gambling – be that bookmakers, social media platforms or banks – must be socially responsible.
‘The Government will not hesitate to act if businesses don’t continue to make progress in this area and do all they can to ensure vulnerable people are protected.
‘We should ask if it is right that people should be able to gamble on credit and this is an area that the Gambling Commission are going to look into.’
Several banks, including Barclays, Lloyds, Santander and the Royal Bank of Scotland, allow customers to block themselves from gambling on debit and credit cards
The commission said last year that it was weighing up the merits of a ban and the UK’s leading problem gambling charity, GambleAware, has backed the measure. There are 430,000 ‘problem gamblers’ in the UK, and around two million who are at risk of developing an addiction, the regulator says.
Several banks, including Barclays, Lloyds, Santander and the Royal Bank of Scotland, allow customers to block themselves from gambling on debit and credit cards.
Nevertheless, betting firms have indicated that ten to 20 per cent of the £43billion they receive each year in bets is placed using credit cards.
The Labour Party announced last year that it would ban the use of credit cards to place bets to tackle what it called the ‘epidemic’ of addiction.
Campaigners on the issue said a ban is long overdue. Lord Chadlington, a Conservative peer and former chairman of Action on Addiction, said: ‘Decisive action on credit is urgently required to protect those at risk.
‘I am pleased to see much needed steps being taken in this area to address gambling-related harm.’
There are 430,000 ‘problem gamblers’ in the UK, and around two million who are at risk of developing an addiction, the Gambling Commission says
Matt Zarb-Cousin, spokesman for the Campaign for Fairer Gambling, said: ‘If you went to the bank and asked for a loan because you wanted to go to the casino you would be laughed out of the branch so there is no justification for allowing gambling via credit cards.
‘Betting more than you can afford is a sign of problem gambling, so permitting gambling on credit cards facilitates and endorses harmful activity.’
Gambling with Lives, which represents families bereaved by gambling-related suicide, said: ‘The facilitation of gambling by credit offered by banks requires stricter control and action on this is crucial.
‘Gambling addiction is a serious health problem that can lead to suicide.’
The Gambling Commission added: ‘In our online review last year we said we will consider prohibiting or restricting the use of credit cards and will explore the consequences of doing so.
‘We will be announcing details in the coming weeks.’
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