In 2019, the Gambling Commission commissioned 2CV to undertake research into consumer behaviours and attitudes towards gambling with credit cards and borrowed money.
It was a nationwide study using digital research methods, consisting of a survey of 474 people who had used a credit card to gamble at least once in the past year. Qualitative ‘consumer voice’ research was conducted through the 2CV: Momento platform with 52 gamblers scoring 3-7 on the Problem Gambling Severity Index (PGSI) screener, 19 of whom had used a credit card to gamble. These participants completed 7 tasks across 14 days. Further details are in the slidepack.
The use of credit cards to gamble
Most gambling deposits are made with funds that are available to the gambler, rather than borrowed money. This survey of 474 people that did use their credit card (CC) to gamble found that they reported doing so frequently, with 71% using them at least once per month. Reported payment values were varied, with 38% in the £0-10 bracket but 30% having a typical CC spend greater than £50. The survey also found that 58% of those that have used a CC have also used other means of borrowing money for gambling at some time.
Attitudes towards gambling with credit cards
The qualitative research found that attitudes to gambling with borrowed money varied depending on the source of the funding, with CCs and loans being ‘less visible’ than borrowing from friends and family, but with greater guilt and shame from visible sources that led to moderated gambling behaviour. CCs were commonly seen as a ‘last resort’ enabler of gambling activity.
Survey questions about motivations for using CCs found a quarter reported motivations that would be considered problematic by using CCs as they didn’t have money available or to avoid transactions appearing on bank statements. Younger, more engaged gamblers with a lower GLS were more likely to report these problematic motivations. Only 17% of the sample were aware of both transaction fees and higher interest rates involved in using CCs.
Views about a (then) potential ban on gambling with credit cards
At the time of the research, a prohibition on gambling with credit cards had been proposed as a consultation option, alongside other options that would instead limit and restrict credit card gambling. The consumer voice research identified overwhelmingly positive responses to the idea of a ban among non-CC gamblers, with a more mixed response from CC gamblers: their preference was for spend restrictions or deposit limits.
Despite this, many CC gamblers reported that they would be less likely to use borrowed money to gamble in the event of a ban, but those with greater current use reported that they were more likely to use another form of lending. Following the introduction of the ban on gambling with CCs, the interim evaluation did not detect any increase in the use of borrowed funds for gambling. The survey identified that most respondents reported that they would use their own funds to gamble (37%) or not gamble (26%).
The Gambling Literacy Score
The GLS was developed to assess the extent to which people correctly understand the nature of gambling through their responses to three statements. Depending on their responses, survey participants are considered to have a high GLS (34% of this sample), medium GLS (30%) or low GLS (36%).
This research identified that those with a low GLS were more likely to be frequent users of CCs (69% low GLS v 26% high GLS), take part in more activities (mean 2.8 v 2.1), spend more on CCs (47% over £50 v 9%), use CCs for problematic reasons (30% v 16%) and borrow money through a means other than a CC (75% v 28%).