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There have been so many changes over the last couple of decades within the UK gambling industry, sometimes it feels like we’re waiting for the next big one. But none of us could have envisaged the announcement made by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC), that all UK based gambling sites could no longer accept credit card payments. You may be wondering why? Because this not only shook the industry itself, but also the many players who chose credit cards as their preferred banking method.
The legislation which makes using credit cards on betting sites illegal, came into effect on the 14th of April 2020. It is the most significant amendment introduced since the inception of the UKGC in September 2007.
The main intention of the UKGC has been to ensure that the UK gambling industry removes any opportunity for criminals to launder money, which can have a long-term economic impact. They have introduced more coherent registration checks including ‘Know Your Customer’ and ‘Source of Wealth’.
But they also aim to protect the most vulnerable people, including children and those with addictive tendencies, from unscrupulous actions taken by betting sites.
Since the UK Gambling Commission started, we have seen changes such as.
- Players only being able to access demo or free games once they have registered on the site and provided identification.
- Identity checks called Know Your Customer, so the site can ensure the player is of legal age by using government issued ID.
- Financial identification checks called Source of Wealth, so that the site can ensure the player has the funds to gamble.
- That terms and conditions be clearly shown on any bonus and promotional imagery, for example wagering requirements.
- Child themed games being removed from gambling sites because they are seen as an enticement to vulnerable players.
- That terms and conditions are placed in a specific section on the site which is labelled and can be found easily.
- All sites must provide players with self-exclusion options and have information on support for gambling addictions such as the organisations ‘GamStop’ and ‘GamCare’.
So yes, as you can see the UK Gambling Commission has been incredibly busy, and what they have legislated has supported both players and the sites. But why did they suddenly focus on credit cards and remove them from our casino betting banking options?
Why Did the UK Gambling Commission Bring in the Credit Card Ban?
Between August and November 2019, the UKGC conducted a review of gambling online. This process included a public consultation, and it was the result of this which has led to the ban.
The result of the consultation shows that a large percentage of the 24 million adults who gamble, will do so using credit cards. But of those players 22% can be classed as gamblers with an addictive tendency and as such they are at risk of harm.
By removing the option of credit cards, it now means that if you want to bet on a gambling site you can only do so with your own money. Of course, the addition of the source of wealth checks will ensure you can afford what you are wagering. Any failures by the gambling site to complete adequate checks and follow the UKGC legislation, will lead to the site being fined and a possibility that their licence will be removed. This loss of licence will mean that they can no longer provide gambling services to UK players.
Was Banning Credit Cards on UK Betting Sites the Right Move?
This is a difficult one because for many players their preference was credit cards and this change caused them problems. One of the benefits associated with this form of payment is that it reduces the risk of bank fraud. Most credit cards such as Master Card and Visa offer protection to customers who are victims of fraud and will refund the money back to the account.
The reality is that for the UKGC their objective is protecting vulnerable people and as such they couldn’t ignore the results of the public consultation. Some customers of betting sites had ended up in tens of thousands of pounds debt on several credit cards. This was mainly due to the ease of credit card availability and the card fees which led to players owing more than they expected.
What Other Banking Options are Available to me When I Gamble on UK Casinos?
So, with credit cards gone, what other banking options are available which will offer similar protection to players? Here are a few of our favourites:
Not the most popular of the banking options, but it is incredibly easy to use, and the transfer time can be quick, depending on the bank. The concern with debit cards is the chance that your bank account may be hacked, but most sites will have SSL encryption software to reduce the risks. You can check if your casino or betting site has this by looking at the bottom of the page for the SSL certificate.
Without doubt the most popular gambling payment method and for good reason. Not only are they convenient, but they provide modern financial security benefits including encryption technology. The length of time it takes to transfer funds is also much faster than any other option. Paypal is the most famous of the brands, but there are so many others available now including Skrill, Neteller, Trustly, MuchBetter and Ilixium.
Pay by Phone Bill – Boku
As well as e-wallets, phone bill payments are quickly becoming the go to banking option for gambling. You simply have to register and provide your mobile number and then any credit will be added to your mobile bill which you then pay off.
You can even use your landline as a form of casino payment by doing the same as mobile, but instead adding your landline number and the deposit amounts will appear on your bill.
This is generally the least popular banking method, mainly because the transfer time can take between 5 to 8 business days. We purely mention it as an option because pretty much every casino or betting site will have it available.
Cryptocurrency – Bitcoin
Most people will shy away from cryptocurrency because they are unsure how to use it, or the gambling site they play on doesn’t offer it. Bitcoin can add a layer of anonymity for the player when it is used for payment. Your difficulty will occur when you want to convert it to real cash, because by setting up a payment wallet you will have to give personal details.
Summary of Why are Credit Card Payments Banned on UK Gambling Sites?
Hopefully we have provided some clarity on why credit card payments are now banned on UK gambling sites. Although we know this may be a pain for many of you, there is a legitimate reason as to why it was introduced. There was a clear need to make changes when you see that a significant number of problem gamblers use this form of banking, because dealing with a gambling addiction not only impacts the person, but also their family and friends. This is why we all need to tackle this problem and minimise the risk to society in general.
For those of you who feel that you are losing control of your gambling, or you are concerned about a family member, then please contact ‘BeGambleAware’. Their number is 0808 8020 133 and they are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, plus the call is completely free. You can either use live chat or speak to an adviser and your details will remain confidential.
As we mentioned above, all UK gambling sites must offer the option of exclusion to players. This means that you have the choice to block yourself from that specific site for a minimum of 6 months. Steps such as these have a huge impact on reducing the risk to those vulnerable people who need additional support and that’s something we can get behind!