An interim evaluation of the Gambling Commission’s credit card ban indicates the action is popular among consumers and has not resulted in harmful unintended consequences.
The credit card ban was introduced in April 2020 to add another layer of protection for consumers and add friction to the process of gambling with borrowed money. Evidence revealed some gamblers with high levels of debt were using credit cards to gamble.
When monitoring gambling and financial behaviours, the report found:
- support for the ban among consumers has been largely positive, qualitative data from consumers supports the conclusion that the ban helps people to gamble within their means and retain control
- the proportion of consumers reporting gambling with other forms of borrowed money has remained stable
- there has been no increase in reports of illegal money lending related to gambling
- while consumers are aware of ways to legally bypass the ban, far more people who previously gambled with a credit card now gamble with available (not borrowed) funds than other types of borrowed money
- bank data showed no observed spike for credit card gamblers in money transfers in the three months after the ban
- there was no spike in ATM withdrawals from credit cards around the time of the ban.
The report shows a major high street bank has observed the volume and value of gambling transactions with credit cards to the gambling merchant code reduced to a very low level. Continually low-level expenditure to businesses with gambling merchant codes was expected and can be explained by activities outside the scope of the ban such as lotteries and competitions spending.
Additionally, major e-wallet and electronic money providers have blocked gambling transactions if funding originated from credit cards.
Key sources used to inform the report were the Commission’s Online Tracker survey, which collects data quarterly from a nationally representative sample of approximately 2,000 adults aged 18+ in Great Britain, and Consumer Voice research completed by 2CV, which involved an eight-day online programme with 30 respondents.
Next steps: future evaluation activity
Ongoing monitoring of behaviours is important to ensure there is not an increase in harmful forms of funding gambling activity.
NatCen Social Research have been commissioned to conduct a full evaluation of the ban on gambling with credit cards by Greo as part of their programme of work to strengthen evaluation of safer gambling initiatives. This is scheduled for completion in early 2023 and the Commission will use these findings, along with our continued monitoring, to inform future policy development.
Andrew Rhodes, Interim Chief Executive of the Gambling Commission said: “Protecting consumers is at the heart of everything we do, we introduced this policy as part of our multifaceted work to reduce gambling harm.
“The successful implementation of the ban across the industry and the impact on consumer behaviour and financial spend we have monitored so far is an encouraging sign that the ban has reduced consumer reliance on gambling with borrowed money. We look forward to NatCen’s report on the long-term impacts of the ban and how this can inform our future policies.”