Prohibition of gambling on credit cards
- Executive summary
- Background and approach
- Methodology and limitations
- Operator Implementation and customer behaviour
- Credit cards and digital wallets
- Deposits prior to the introduction of the ban
- Displacement to other high-cost credit sources
- Displacement to illegal sources of funds
- Bypassing the ban through other behaviours
- Displacement to unlicensed gambling sites
- Inconvenience to leisure gamblers
- Conclusions and next steps
The evaluation consists of four distinct phases:
Greo produced a Rapid Evidence Review into the Role of Credit Cards and Gambling (PDF opens in a new tab) in March 2020 that examined empirical evidence into the use of credit cards for gambling.
A Theory of Change (ToC) is a description of how and why a particular action is expected to result in a desired change. One of the strengths of the process is that it allows the identification of metrics (represented as outcomes and assumptions) which should be monitored to provide an indication of whether or not the intended aims are being met.
Details of the ToC contributing organisations can be found within the appendices.
This report provides an overview of the ‘monitoring phase’ of the evaluation. It became clear that a full evaluation in April 2020 could not capture the full impact of the ban and an evaluation at a later time would be more suitable and more comprehensive. As explored later, the Covid-19 lockdown resulted in many changes to financial situations and gambling behaviour – this would have made it very difficult to determine whether any observed changes were due to Covid-19 or the credit card ban.
At the end of May 2021, following a competitive tender process, Greo appointed NatCen Social Research to conduct a full evaluation of the credit card ban in Great Britain.
Greo received a regulatory settlement in June 2019 to create a programme of work to support the National Strategy to Reduce Gambling Harms. As part of that work, they have worked to strengthen evaluation of safer gambling initiatives (opens in a new tab)
NatCen will assess the progress that has been made towards achieving the intended outcomes of the ban, whether the ban was implemented as intended, any unexpected positive or negative impacts, and opportunities to modify it in the future. We will use these findings, along with our continued monitoring, to inform future policy development.
The evaluation will seek to address a number of process and impact outcomes that have resulted from the credit card ban on gambling through a mixed methods approach including primary and secondary data analysis and interviews with gamblers, affected others and stakeholders.
The evaluation is scheduled for completion in early 2023.
Theory of Change: Monitoring Phase
The ban on gambling with credit cards was announced on 14 January 2020 and introduced on 14 April 2020.
The initial steps to lead to a successful implementation of the credit card gambling ban are that ‘operators implement the ban effectively and on time’ and ‘financial institutions block credit card payments via digital wallets’.
Following a successful implementation, it was recognized that at the early stage, it was necessary to identify ‘whether gamblers had made a large credit card deposit prior to the introduction of the ban’.
Financial outcomes and assumptions were identified as ‘gamblers aren’t displaced to other high-cost credit sources, such as payday loans’, ‘gamblers aren’t displaced to illegal sources of funds, such as loan sharks, theft or fraud’, and ‘gamblers don’t bypass the ban through credit card cash withdrawals, layering funds through wallets or using pay-later phone billing methods’.
Gambling outcomes and assumptions are ‘The inconvenience to leisure gamblers is minimised’ and ‘gamblers aren’t displaced to unlicensed gambling sites or black market sources’.
Theory of Change: Future Evaluation Activity
Future evaluation activities will continue to monitor financial and gambling outcomes.
For financial outcomes, ‘There is a reduction in credit and other forms of borrowed monies used by ‘debt-risk’ gamblers’, ‘There is a reduction in gambling-related debt resulting in bankruptcy’ and ‘There is a reduction in gambling-related credit card/financial fraud’. These lead to a goal of ‘A reduction in financial-harm consequences for the gambler and affected others as a result of debt incurrences.’
The gambling outcomes of ‘increased friction results in a ‘pause’ in gambling, greater self-reflection and changed gambling patterns’ and ‘increased friction reduces relapses amongst those recovering from GRH’ lead to a goal of ‘There is a reduction in gambling-related harms resulting from gambling with borrowed money’.
The gambling outcomes of ‘The ban adds impetus to the practice and perceptions of Safer Gambling (SG) support by operators’ and ‘Increased awareness of credit-related gambling harms results in more responsible play and an increased uptake of SG tools/self-exclusion’ to lead to a goal of ‘new gamblers benefit from normalized non-credit, ‘safer’ payment behaviours and industry commitments to safer gambling’.
Last updated: 11 July 2023
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