Problem gambling gets defined as a continuous longing to bet, even though a desire to stop exists, and the person in question is well aware of the negative ramifications of continuing to engage in this pastime. The American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders classifies this condition as an addictive disorder, similar to substance abuse issues.
In May 2020, a survey conducted by YouGov, commissioned by the charity GambleAware, showed that nearly 1.4 million Brits were problem gamblers. That figure only fueled already growing concerns regarding this hobby and its potential harms. A month before the mentioned survey got published, the UK Gambling Commission announced a nationwide ban forbidding operators to accept credit cards from their customers. Research undertaken by the UKGC informed this body that up to 22% of online bettors that use credit cards can get classed as problem gamblers. A similar percentage applies to those that wager on betting sites not on GamStop, platforms that exist outside the UK’s mandatory self-exclusion scheme, GamStop.
What follows is a deep dive into this topic, a look into the justification of banning credit cards from the UK market, and what alternatives are now available to UK internet bettors.
In the article
Why UKGC Websites No Longer Accept Credit Cards
In 2019, the UKGC launched two consultations that aimed to examine the potential positive effects of restricting the use of credit card services at gambling sites or outright banning them. These yielded dozens of written responses from local governments, consumer bodies, financial institutions, and charities. The consultations focused on the risks associated with people borrowing money to gamble, its inherent harms, and analyzing operators’ duties on affordability. That data gathered proved the disproportional use of credit cards by people who are more likely to experience the ill effects of betting online and offline.
The UKGC believes that countless examples of gamblers accumulating tens of thousands of pounds of debt via credit cards were justification enough for this decision. Credit card fees also further exacerbated this situation. Though the UKGC knew that forbidding credit cards would be an unpopular measure, they were firm in stance that it would reduce gambling-associated harms, viewing it as a necessary move in attempting to curb the rise of problem gambling in Britain. Thus, since April 14, 2020, no UKGC licensed operator could allow credit cards for betting. Naturally, non UK bookmakers still provide this option.
Pros & Cons Debit & Prepaid Cards
Undoubtedly, credit/debit cards are the most widely available payment method in all territories. The UK is no exception to this rule of thumb. As of January 2021, there have been close to 63 million credit/debit cards issued to Brits. The total number of card transactions in January 2021 alone stood at 196 million. So, this method is something that most parties interested in engaging in betting activities have in their pocket, ready to use at any time.
However, the downside of using popular card payment options at sports betting sites not on GamStop is that they can incur sizeable transfer fees, and their processing times can go up to five banking days.
Prepaid cards are an excellent deposit solution because they let gamblers fund their account without the risk of debt accumulation. They function as a responsible betting measure, and if someone wants to continue betting once they deplete their set budget, that person has to go through the hassle of purchasing a new prepaid card. The main drawback of prepaid solutions is that users may lose funds due to inactivity.
Benefits of E-Wallets
E-wallets showed up on the scene in 1999, with PayPal, more or less, pioneering this technology. Shortly after PayPal’s debut, Neteller appeared, primarily focusing on catering to the online gambling niche. Skrill followed suit a year later. Today, there are too many companies operating in this sector to count.
Essentially, e-wallets are digital money storing software solutions. Many can get funded via credit cards, allowing users to use the money in their e-wallet accounts at betting sites. However, this is not a possibility at UKGC-regulated platforms, only at bookies not on GamStop.
The main allure of e-wallets is that they can facilitate money transactions to and from betting hubs in 24 to 48 hours. Many have fees as low as 2%, but others have higher ones. Security-wise, there is little to worry about when it comes to this online payment option.
Bitcoin & Altcoins
In short, cryptocurrencies are a form of digital money. They differ from fiat currencies in that they do not get controlled by central banks of governments. They get produced and distributed through mining and exist on a digital ledger called a blockchain. The rules that govern the use of a blockchain get decided by a decentralized authority. Moreover, no blockchain transaction can get reversed or canceled, and they are pretty much tamper-proof.
Bitcoin is the world’s original crypto coin, invented in 2009. In the past twelve years, thousands of other cryptocurrencies have gotten developed. Though crypto gambling sites have been a thing since 2011, they have only recently gotten loads of traction. That happened on account of Bitcoin continuously making the news cycle. The chief positive aspects of using Bitcoin and other forms of digital money at gambling sites are anonymity and speed. Nevertheless, UKGC-approved platforms still have to perform identity checks on sign-up or when users decide to deposit/withdrawal substantial sums. The UKGC recognized cryptocurrencies as a fiat money equivalent back in 2016.
Are Credit Cards Best Left at Betting Sites Not on GamStop
Bookmakers not on GamStop like those found here have a base of operations in a foreign country and get regulated by that region’s gambling overseer. Many such organizations with decades of industry experience are super credible bodies that implement the same safety measures as the UKGC.
Non GamStop betting sites are a popular topic now due to the UKGC enforcing new sets of restrictions regarding online slot gameplay in February 2021. Thus, when these platforms get mentioned, what often follows is an explanation that they are best suited for people that can control their impulses and gamble responsibly. The same logic applies to betting sites not on GamStop, existing outside the UK’s obligatory self-exclusion scheme. These platforms accept credit cards and should only get used by financially conscientious people who can resist the urge to bet more than they afford. Aside from this distinction, bookmakers not on GamStop hardly differ from UK ones, as they utilize identical software solutions and security protocols. It is up to individual bettors to gauge if they can keep their betting activity in check, gambling with only what they have set aside for their sessions. If they can do that, there is no reason why they should not explore non UK bookmakers. However, if they cannot follow through with this, they should stick to UKGC-sites only.
Attempting to help lower rising UK gambling addiction rates, in 2020, the UKGC made the responsible move to ban credit card use at their licensed operators. Given that this occurred recently, only time will tell if this measure will yield the desired results. Nonetheless, everyone has to applaud the ongoing dedication of the UK’s gambling regulator in creating a safer environment for British bettors. Those gamblers that feel like they have no compulsion toward wagering can freely partake in credit card wagering at betting sites non on GamStop. Still, they should only do so responsibly.