The Gambling Commission has announced a ban on gambling businesses allowing consumers in Great Britain to use credit cards to gamble.
The ban, which comes into effect on 14 April, follows the Commission’s review of online gambling and the Government’s Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures. A public consultation was carried out between August and November 2019.
24 million adults in Great Britain gamble, with 10.5 million of those gambling online. UK Finance estimate that 800,000* consumers use credit cards to gamble.
Separate research undertaken by the Commission shows that 22%** of online gamblers using credit cards to gamble are classed as problem gamblers – with even more at some risk of harm.
The ban, which will apply to all online and offline gambling products with the exception of non-remote lotteries, will provide a significant layer of additional protection to vulnerable people.
Neil McArthur, Gambling Commission chief executive, said:
“Credit card gambling can lead to significant financial harm. The ban that we have announced today should minimise the risks of harm to consumers from gambling with money they do not have.
“Research shows that 22% of online gamblers using credit cards are problem gamblers, with even more suffering some form of gambling harm.
‘“We also know that there are examples of consumers who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of credit card availability. There is also evidence that the fees charged by credit cards can exacerbate the situation because the consumer can try to chase losses to a greater extent.”
Mr McArthur said although he understood that some consumers used credit cards because they were convenient, the risk of harm to others was too high to allow the use of credit cards to continue.
“We realise that this change will inconvenience those consumers who use credit cards responsibly but we are satisfied that reducing the risk of harm to other consumers means that action must be taken.” he said. “But we will evaluate the ban and watch closely for any unintended circumstances for consumers.”
Mr McArthur warned that although likely to reduce gambling harm, the banning of credit cards needed to be accompanied by other efforts.
“The ban is part of our ongoing work to reduce gambling harm. We also need to continue the work we have been doing with gambling operators and the finance industry to ensure consumers only gamble with money they can afford to spend.”
Last year Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) ministers also met with banks and gambling operators to discuss their growing concerns, and how companies could use technology and customer data to help those at risk of developing gambling problems, including those using credit cards.
Culture Minister Helen Whately said:
“Whilst millions gamble responsibly, I have also met people whose lives have been turned upside down by gambling addiction.
“There is clear evidence of harm from consumers betting with money they do not have, so it is absolutely right that we act decisively to protect them.
“In the past year we have introduced a wave of tougher measures, including cutting the maximum stake on fixed odds betting terminals, bringing in tighter age and identity checks for online gambling and expanding national specialist support through the NHS Long Term Plan. We have also secured a series of commitments from five leading gambling operators that will include £100 million funding towards treatment for problem gamblers.
“But there is more to do. We will be carrying out a review of the Gambling Act to ensure it is fit for the digital age and we will be launching a new nationwide addiction strategy in 2020.
“We will not hesitate to take any further action necessary to protect people from gambling harm.”
Today has also seen the Commission announce changes to licence conditions which will require all online gambling operators to participate in the GAMSTOP scheme and offer their customers the service from 31 March.
Neil McArthur said:
“We welcome the fact that GAMSTOP have got to this stage in their development and encourage them to continue to improve their offer, particularly in relation to preventing those who have self-excluded being targeted by direct marketing.
“It is important that self-exclusion schemes are as effective as possible and they will be most effective when used in combination with other blocking tools such as gambling blocking software and payment card blocking.
Helen Whately added:
“We have been clear to all businesses that have connections to gambling, such as operators, social media platforms and banks, that they must be socially responsible and use the power of technology and data to help consumers manage their spending and protect them from harm.
“I have been encouraged by the majority of major high street banks introducing measures to allow customers to switch off spending on gambling through mobile apps.
“By making it a regulatory requirement for all online gambling websites licensed in Great Britain to sign up to Gamstop. I am confident that people who have taken the significant step to opt out of gambling will be well supported, alongside a wide range of other tools.”
PA Gaming Control Board Levies $212,500 in Fines
The Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board has approved three consent agreements presented by the Board’s Office of Enforcement Counsel (OEC) during its public meeting resulting in a total of $212,500 in fines against casino operators:
Mountainview Thoroughbred Racing LLC, two fines totaling $147,500:
- A $97,500 fine for incidents occurring on Penn Interactive Ventures’ Internet Gaming/Sports Wagering platforms in which there were insufficient protocols that allowed for the creation, access and use of multiple online accounts using the personal identifying information of other individuals, the funding of accounts using stolen or fraudulently obtained payment devices, and the withdrawing of funds into account controlled by individuals conducting fraudulent behavior; and,
- A $50,000 fine for three incidents at its Hollywood Casino York property in which individuals under the legal gambling age of 21 were able access the gaming floor.
The fine against Sugarhouse HSP Gaming LP for $65,000 was assessed for incidents at its Rivers Philadelphia Casino in which it:
- failed to meet minimum staffing requirements for a period of 40 days; and,
- failed to provide timely notification of a voucher theft to both the onsite Gaming Control Board staff and Pennsylvania State Police.
The Board also acted on petitions filed by OEC to ban three adults from all casinos in the Commonwealth for leaving minors unattended in order to engage in gaming activities:
- A male patron was placed on the Involuntary Exclusion List after leaving a 9-year-old unattended in a vehicle with an outside temperature of 49 degrees in the parking lot of Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Erie County for 3 minutes while he gambled in the sportsbook;
- A female patron was placed on the Involuntary Exclusion List after leaving three children, ages 4, 7, and 12, unattended in a vehicle with an outside temperature of 72 degrees in the parking lot of Presque Isle Downs and Casino in Erie County for 1 hour and 15 minutes while she gambled at slot machines; and,
- A female patron was placed on the Involuntary Exclusion List after leaving a 12-year-old unattended in a vehicle with an outside temperature of 50 degrees at the valet entrance at Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course for 15 minutes while she gambled at slot machines.
The Board’s actions serve as a reminder that adults are prohibited from leaving minors unattended in the parking lot or garage, a hotel, or other venues at a casino since it creates a potentially unsafe and dangerous environment for the children. Leaving minors unattended at a Pennsylvania casino also subjects the offending adult to criminal prosecution in addition to exclusion from all Pennsylvania casinos. To complement the efforts by casinos to mitigate this issue, the Board created an awareness campaign, “Don’t Gamble with Kids”.
EGBA Welcomes Confirmation Of Frankfurt As Seat Of New EU Anti-Money Laundering Authority
The European Gaming and Betting Association (EGBA), the association representing Europe’s leading gambling operators, welcomes the recent confirmation of Frankfurt as the seat of the new European Anti-Money Laundering Authority (AMLA). This agreement, reached by the EU institutions, creates a European anti-money laundering authority which will operate together with, and in addition to, the already existing national anti-money laundering (AML) authorities of the EU member states.
AMLA, which will commence operations in mid-2025 with over 400 staff members, will possess both direct and indirect supervisory powers over obligated entities, including the EU’s biggest financial institutions. With the power to intervene in cross-border cases, AMLA is expected to provide comprehensive guidance that further harmonises AML rules and their application, including creating a standardised reporting template for Suspicious Transaction Reports (STRs), which will greatly benefit various sectors, including gambling, by standardising reporting formats across EU countries.
The establishment of AMLA as a new authority is a fundamental part of the ongoing reform of the EU’s anti-money laundering framework, which is expected to be finalised and agreed by the EU institutions before the end of the current EU mandate in June 2024.
As the EU finalises the new AML legislative package, EGBA has developed industry-specific guidelines on anti-money laundering to help online gambling operators comply with the AML rules in the EU, including the upcoming EU AML Regulation. Developed collaboratively with our members, the guidelines offer a risk-based approach and include practical direction for operators in areas such as risk assessments, customer due diligence processes, suspicious transaction reporting, and record-keeping.
To ensure the effectiveness of the guidelines, EGBA members will engage in regular discussions on their implementation and are obliged to submit annual reports to EGBA summarising their progress. To promote transparency and accountability, these regular discussions and reporting will help to identify and address potential issues or areas for improvement in the guidelines and ensure they remain up to date with the latest developments. Other operators are invited to adopt the guidelines and participate in the reporting requirements.
“We welcome Frankfurt as the chosen seat of the new European Anti-Money Laundering Authority. Given the city’s position as the centre of European finance, it is a logical choice. We look forward to collaborating with AMLA to ensure the representation of the gambling sector’s voice in future EU-level AML discussions and help contribute positively to the fight against money laundering. The standardisation of STRs will really benefit gambling operators, particularly those who operate in many countries, because there are currently many different reporting formats across EU member states. By implementing our AML guidelines, operators can also already be well positioned for the EU’s incoming AML rules and play their part in raising standards across the industry.” – Dr. Ekaterina Hartmann, Director of Legal and Regulatory Affairs, EGBA.
BOS Opposes Swedish Government’s Credit Card Ban
On Friday, the government came out with a proposal to ban the use of credit cards for gambling. The government is thus going against its own state investigation into the matter, the so-called Over-indebtedness Inquiry.
In a previous opinion, BOS has supported the Over-indebtedness Inquiry’s conclusion to continue allowing credit cards for gambling.
“It is sad that the government does not listen to its own expertise and instead proposes a ban on credit cards when gambling, contrary to what the government investigation has concluded. Interestingly, the government does not propose a corresponding credit card ban for the purchase of alcoholic beverages, which in Sweden is only offered by a retail monopoly owned and operated by the government itself,” Gustaf Hoffstedt said.
“The government is handing yet another competitive advantage to the unlicensed gambling market, which has a 41% market share when it comes to online casino. The risk is great that unlicensed gambling will overtake and gain a larger total market share than licensed gambling in 2024. The government needs to change focus and show that it is on the same side as the licensed gambling companies and the safeguarding of consumers,” Gustaf Hoffstedt added.
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