There's an old maxim that you should only gamble what you can afford to lose. This is pretty sound advice, especially when you get caught up in the excitement of playing some of the incredible new online slots that have been released this year. However, when you have a credit card in your wallet, knowing when to stop can become a little more difficult as the line between money you actually have and money you have to pay back becomes blurred.
In June 2020, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) made the decision to ban credit cards as a payment option at gambling venues in order to protect players from harmful spending. There were some concerns at the time that this measure would cause other problem gambling issues as an unintended side-effect of the ban. Concerns included whether the ban would be effective, and whether players would simply use other mechanisms, including illegal money lenders, to borrow money for gambling activities.
Was The Credit Card Ban A Good Thing?
The UKGC has been monitoring the impact of the credit card ban and released its interim findings today (2 November 2021). According to the report, there were several positive indicators. Players have actually found that the ban helped them to control their gambling spend. There has been no increase in players using other forms of borrowed money, and there was no spike in money transfers or ATM withdrawals from credit cards in the three months after the ban.
“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," said Andrew Rhodes, Interim Chief Executive of the UKGC.
While these findings look positive, the UKGC acknowledges that ongoing evaluation is important. The UKGC have commissioned NatCen Social Research to investigate in detail and submit a full report in 2023 to help guide future policies.
The UK's regulatory framework has struck a good balance between allowing players as much freedom as possible, while still keeping a strict eye on operators to ensure compliance. Hopefully, countries with new and emerging regulatory frameworks will take the UK example into account, and remove the temptation of gambling with borrowed money. After all, slots are meant to be fun, not a source of crippling debt!