Government review calls to ban using credit cards to gamble online
Recommendations have been made to government to ban using credit cards in conjunction with online gambling and to introduce a mandatory levy on gambling companies to be used towards treating those with gambling problems or gambling addiction.
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sports (DCMS) brought its 12-week consultation on a review into the gambling industry to an end yesterday. The focus of the consultation has undoubtedly been on a review into the stakes of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), with reports suggesting that FOBT stakes are set to be cut from £100 to a maximum of £2.
However, the conclusion of the consultation period was not without a number of late additions. Under pressure to issue focused measures aimed at alleviating the endemic of problem gambling in the UK, the thinktank Respublica recommended that bookmakers and online gambling operators should fund a levy to research and treat problem gambling. The Labour party has already supported this policy, with leader Jeremy Corbyn backing the plan.
After submitting their proposal to government, Respublica published their recommendations online, with chief findings being that gambling addiction treatment receives three times less funding than treatment into drug and alcohol addiction.
To tackle this, a ‘smart’ mandatory levy should be introduced and set at 1% of industry profits, which would raise £135m to help treat gambling addiction. Respublica also called for problem gambling to take a much more central role in the government’s public health strategy and fall under the jurisdiction of the NHS and the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), rather than just the DCMS, who are not equipped to tackle the problem.
Currently, operators pay just 0.1% of revenues towards treating problem gambling and even this small contribution is voluntary, with many firms failing to pay whatsoever.
The policy has been supported by both GambleAware and Citizens’ Advice.
A ban on credit cards being used to gamble online?
GambleAware also submitted their own proposals to government, with the most notable measure a ban on using credit cards to gamble online. Chief executive of GambleAware, Marc Etches said:
[credit cards] significantly increase the risk gamblers will gamble more than they can afford… With 430,000 problem gamblers and a further 2m adults at risk of developing a problem, GambleAware is concerned about the impact this hidden addiction has on people’s lives.– Marc Etches, GambleAware chief executive
The charity is also backing a maximum cut to FOBT stakes, but raised the point that regulators must also limit how frequently users can place bets using the machines, which lead to heavy losses as much as a high maximum bet amount.