Gam­blers to be banned from plac­ing bets on credit cards

Shirt deals could face axe

Scottish Daily Mail - - News - By Tom Witherow Busi­ness Cor­re­spon­dent

PUNTERS will be banned from us­ing credit cards to place bets on­line and in shops.

The new rules, which come into force on April 14, will af­fect all types of gam­bling ex­cept the Na­tional Lot­tery.

More than a fifth of the 800,000 punters who use a credit card to place a bet have a gam­bling prob­lem, ac­cord­ing to the Gam­bling Com­mis­sion.

It dis­closed that 165,000 bet­ting cus­tomers made £46mil­lion of credit card de­posits in just one month last year – equiv­a­lent to £280 each.

The new rules, an­nounced by the com­mis­sion yes­ter­day, are a vic­tory for the Mail, which has cam­paigned for greater pro­tec­tion for vul­ner­a­ble play­ers and their fam­i­lies.

Around 24mil­lion Britons gam­ble, al­most half of them us­ing web­sites. The com­mis­sion said it had seen punters fall into ‘tens of thou­sands’ of pounds of credit card debt, with some chas­ing their losses to try to pay it off.

One prob­lem gam­bler, Chris Mur­phy, lost more than £100,000. He told the BBC: ‘There have

‘Felt I would never get free’

been times when I’ve been gam­bling-free for months, and then bor­rowed money from a pay­day loan site or a credit card, and woke up the next day hav­ing lost all my money and cre­ated a few thou­sand pounds of debt.

‘It made me feel like I would never get free.’

Play­ers will still be able to use debit cards, cash or on­line pay­ments sites such as PayPal.

MPs and cam­paign­ers wel­comed the change but last night warned it would not pre­vent play­ers from us­ing over­drafts or pay­day loans to fund their habits. Na­tion­al­ist

MP Ron­nie Cowan, vice-chair­man of the all-party par­lia­men­tary group on gam­bling, said: ‘This is wel­comed but we mustn’t take our eyes off the prize, and that’s a com­pletely new gam­bling Act.’

The Bishop of St Al­bans, Dr Alan Smith, said it was a ‘sig­nif­i­cant step in pro­gres­sive pol­i­cy­mak­ing’. But he added: ‘This is no more than a tweak to gam­bling leg­is­la­tion and reg­u­la­tion.

‘Fun­da­men­tal re­form is needed if we are to ever make sig­nif­i­cant progress for the hun­dreds of thou­sands af­fected by gam­blin­gre­lated harm.’

Cul­ture Min­is­ter He­len Whately said: ‘While mil­lions gam­ble re­spon­si­bly, I have also met peo­ple whose lives have been turned up­side down by gam­bling ad­dic­tion.

‘There is ev­i­dence of harm from con­sumers bet­ting with money they do not have, so it is right we act de­ci­sively to pro­tect them.’

Neil McArthur, of the Gam­bling Com­mis­sion, said: ‘Credit card gam­bling can lead to sig­nif­i­cant fi­nan­cial harm. The ban we have an­nounced to­day should min­imise the risks of harm to con­sumers from gam­bling with money they do not have.’

Debt char­ity the Money Ad­vice Trust also said that although the change was a ‘wel­come in­ter­ven­tion’, more must be done.

Shares in UK-listed gam­bling firms – such as Wil­liam Hill and GVC, which owns Lad­brokes Co­ral, and Flut­ter, which owns Paddy Power – fell yes­ter­day.

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