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Statistics and research release

Behaviours and attitudes towards gambling with credit cards (2019 research)

Research from 2019 about behaviours and attitudes towards gambling with credit cards and borrowed money.


This release contains research from 2019 about behaviours and attitudes towards gambling with credit cards and borrowed money – a profile of who used credit cards to gamble, how their behaviour varies by gambling literacy score and attitudes towards the (then) potential policy change to prohibit the use of credit cards to gamble.

This research was conducted in 2019 to inform the Commission’s consultation on gambling with credit cards. The Commission announced a ban on gambling with credit cards in January 2020 which came into force on 14 April 2020. The interim evaluation of the prohibition was published in November 2021 and is available on the Gambling Commission’s website. NatCen have been commissioned by Greo to conduct a full evaluation (opens in new tab), which is scheduled for completion in 2023.

Key facts

Credit Card gamblers were:

  • more highly engaged with gambling
  • more likely to have a lower ‘gambling literacy score’ (GLS)
  • reasonably likely to have borrowed money from a source other than credit cards
  • likely to recognise gambling with borrowed money as risky and feel more guilt about gambling with money borrowed from friends or family than money through credit cards or loans
  • more likely to consider gambling management strategies in recognition of gambling risks
  • more likely to use their own funds or stop gambling in the event of a ban on gambling with credit cards, although those with a low GLS reported they were more likely to seek different borrowing sources to gamble.



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%).

Data and downloads



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