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Prohibition of gambling on credit cards

This report focuses on research conducted around the prohibition of gambling on credit cards

Executive summary

On reflection of the evidence presented in this report, we are:

  • satisfied that the ban on gambling with credit cards has been successfully implemented
  • confident that the initial impact on financial and gambling behaviours has been positive
  • conscious that consumers who had previously used credit cards have reasonably high awareness of alternative methods of using borrowed funds for gambling. Although most have stopped using borrowed funds, we are mindful of the importance of continuing to monitor behaviours – especially since lockdown restrictions have been lifted
  • welcoming of the further evaluation activity to be conducted by NatCen, commissioned by Greo, which will consider the longer-term impacts of the ban on financial and gambling behaviours.
PhaseAssumption/ OutcomeEvidence
ImplementationOperators implement the ban effectively and on-timeWe have found no evidence of systemic breaches of the ban by operators

Bank data shows credit card payments to gambling merchant code reduced as expected
ImplementationFinancial institutions block credit card payments made via their digital walletsThe major e-wallet and electronic money providers (accounting for the vast majority of third-party transactions) have given assurances that wallet transactions are blocked for gambling if originating from credit cards, though some minor breaches occurred and have been rectified.
ImplementationGamblers don't make a large credit card deposit prior to ban introductionBank data shows no observed spike for credit card gamblers in ATM withdrawals from credit cards around the time of the ban
Financial behaviour (Initial) Gamblers aren't displaced to other high-cost credit sources, such as payday loansTracker data shows that the proportion reporting gambling with other forms of borrowed money has remained stable, with consumer voice qualitative research suggesting that Covid-19 has had the bigger impact on financial behaviours.
Financial behaviour (Initial)Gamblers aren't displaced to illegal sources of funds, such as loan sharks, theft or fraudThe Illegal Money Lending Team have not seen an increase in reports related specifically to gambling and the credit card ban
Financial behaviour (Initial)Gamblers don't bypass the ban through credit card cash withdrawals, layering funds through wallets or using pay-later phone billing methodsTracker data shows a greater proportion have stopped using credit to gamble than have been displaced to other sources.

The consumer voice work has identified high awareness of workarounds to the ban, and some respondents who have utilised these workarounds.

Bank data shows no observed spike for credit card gamblers in money transfers in the three months after the ban.
Gambling behaviour (Initial)Gamblers aren't displaced to unlicensed gambling sites or black-market sourcesWe have not had reports of displacement to unlicensed gambling as a result of the credit card ban.

The consumer voice research did not identify anybody seeking or gambling on unlicensed websites.
Gambling behaviour (Initial)The inconvenience to leisure gamblers is minimisedConsumer voice research showed awareness of the ban is relatively low and those that have amended behaviours do not feel inconvenienced. In general, there was support for the ban.

Tracker survey quotes are positive: the ban helps to retain control and stay within means.
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Prohibition of gambling on credit cards - Background and approach
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