Players can no longer use a credit card at UK-licenced online casinos in a measure to prevent gambling on ‘credit’. But will it work?

UK bans credit cards at online casinos

Since the first real money online casinos came into existence in the mid-90s, the credit card has been one of the principal payment methods.

Virtually every casino, sports betting, poker, and bingo site accepts credit card deposits. However, the UK Gambling Commission has now banned players and operators from using them. The watershed day was on the 14th of April.

With the recent spike in online gambling activity while many countries are in lockdown, maybe the ban has come at just the right time, although some have claimed the new law to be ‘overrated’.

The credit card era ends during COVID-19

The UKGC has stated that the introduction of its ban on credit cards will provide another layer of protection for online players, particularly during the ongoing COVID-19 lockdown.

First announced in January, the ban applies to all forms of offline and online gambling, with the exception of in-store lottery tickets and scratchcards. Furthermore, this ban also includes credit cards attached to e-wallets.

Neil McArthur, the CEO of the Gambling Commission, said:

“It is a ban which ultimately reduces the risk of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have. The ban also comes at a vital time as we are seeing an increase in the use of some online products, such as online slots and virtual sports, and our online search analysis shows an increase in UK consumer interest in gambling products since the lockdown began".

Positive move but ‘overrated’

There’s no disputing that banning credit cards is a positive move. People should not be gambling with borrowed money, which using credit cards is. However, Kamran Hedjri - an executive at PXP Financial - has claimed that while this ban is positive, it’s overrated.

His company conducted payment method research at ICE London across multiple generations. The results highlighted that:

  • 59% of Generation X (1965 - 1980) regularly used credit cards to gamble with
  • Millennials and Generation Z preferred debit cards and prepaid mobile wallets
  • the Millennials are the big spenders in the online gambling industry, with Generation X not really moving the needle

This is why Mr Hedjri feels the ban is overrated because credit cards are not the dominant payment option in 2020. Additionally, players who do use these cards to gamble with will simply revert to a different online casinos payment method.

Video of Gambling Commission CEO announcing credit card ban

Click to start video playback (double tap on mobile)

Final thoughts on UKGC credit card ban

CasinoAward supports this ban as it is an active step to try and help gamblers who are playing with money that isn’t their own. That said, we also agree with the statements made by Mr Hedjri. There are many payment options open to players, so choosing an alternative will be easy.

Furthermore, there is a concern that the credit card ban will simply force players over to using internationally-licenced casinos that are out of the Gambling Commission’s reach. This will be an area which needs to be monitored to avoid vulnerable players slipping through the net, and not getting the help if, and when, needed.

Last update: 11-05-2020
Regulations and Laws