The government has questioned whether gambling with the use of credit cards should continue, with culture secretary Jeremy Wright set to call in banks and bookmakers to discuss ministers’ concerns.
The Gambling Commission is set to launch a review into gambling with credit cards next month which could lead to regulatory action, the government has warned.
Wright also said that self-exclusion schemes in which customers opt out of gambling must be “policed properly” and warned that operators risked losing their licence if they did not step in to protect the vulnerable.
His comments come after sports minister Mims Davies told the GambleAware conference last month that the crackdown on FOBTs was not the end of government action in the area of gambling.
Online gambling companies have indicated to the Gambling Commission that up to 20 per cent of deposits are made using credit cards, the government claimed.
Wright said: “Protecting people from the risks of gambling-related harm is vital and all businesses with connections to gambling – be that bookmakers, social media platforms or banks – must be socially responsible.
“The government will not hesitate to act if businesses don’t continue to make progress in this area and do all they can to ensure vulnerable people are protected.
“Gambling operators must step in and act when people are showing signs of risky gambling. Their licences are at risk if they do not. We should also ask if it is right that people should be able to gamble on credit and this is an area that the Gambling Commission are going to look into.”
The Remote Gambling Association said it was looking at the issue of credit cards itself.
RGA director of business Brian Wright said: “Concerns around the use of credit cards for gambling purposes is one that the Gambling Commission has already raised.
“We at the RGA are therefore in the process of gathering evidence to see if British credit card users are a particularly problematic group of our customers and will be happy to share this with the Gambling Commission and discuss the findings with them in detail.”
Jeremy Wright: “The government will not hesitate to act if businesses don’t continue to make progress”
Banks including Barclays, Lloyds, Santander and the Royal Bank of Scotland have recently said they would take action to allowing customers to switch off spending on gambling, as well as other areas of expenditure, through their mobile apps.
Jeremy Wright said banks must make sure these work properly and told gambling operators that online self-exclusion scheme Gamstop and its betting shop equivalent must do the same.
“Self-exclusion schemes are essential but must be properly policed and effective to support the individual that has taken the decision to opt out,” he added.
“This is something that I will be raising with the industry and the Gambling Commission. Self-exclusion measures are licence conditions for all gambling operators and those who cut corners in this area must face action.”
The Association of British Bookmakers said it was encouraged by the results of independent surveys into the effectiveness of the betting shop exclusion scheme.
A spokesman added: “We will work with the Gambling Commission and Department for Culture, Media and Sport to ensure the highest levels of social responsibility.”
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