GAMBLING firms will be banned from accepting bets placed using credit cards from April this year in a bid to stop players getting into debt.
Instead, Brits will have to use a debit card or cash deposited into an account if they want to gamble.
The ban by the Gambling Commission will come into effect on April 14 and applies to all online and offline bets, apart from the National Lottery.
The watchdog has announced the shake-up to help tackle the issue of problem gambling.
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."
What are the signs of a gambling addiction?
THE signs of a gambling problem are often the same as the signs of other addictions. Common signs of addiction include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Feeling the need to be secretive about gambling,
- Having trouble controlling gambling habits,
- Gambling when you cannot afford to,
- Your friends and family express concern about your gambling.
As with any other addiction, the hallmark sign of a gambling problem is that you feel you cannot stop.
If you feel like you need to try just one more time, or if you feel anxious when you think about quitting, it is highly likely you are suffering from a gambling addiction.
Excessive gambling often causes a multitude of emotional symptoms, including anxiety, depression, and even suicidal thoughts and tendencies.
Research by the watchdog found that 22 per cent of problem online gamblers use a credit card to fund the game.
It said it is aware of players who've ended up with tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling using the cards.
Fees charged by credit card providers can push punters further into debt.
Problem gamblers may also continue to place bets in an attempt to win back the losses to payback what they owe.
Mr McArthur added that although some consumers may use credit cards simply for convenience, the risk of harm to others was too high.
The ban is part of the watchdog's "ongoing work" to reduce gambling harm, following a concerns raised by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
What help is available for gambling addictions?
THERE'S evidence that gambling can be successfully treated in the same way as other addictions.
Cognitive behavioural therapy usually has the best results, but there are a number of treatment and support groups available for people who want to stop gambling:
- GamCare offers free information, support and counselling for problem gamblers in the UK. It runs the National Gambling Helpline (0808 8020 133) and also offers face-to-face counselling.
- If you live in England or Wales, are aged 16 or over and have complex problems related to gambling, you can refer yourself to the NHS’ National Problem Gambling Clinic for problem gamblers.
- The Gordon Moody Association offers residential courses for men and women who have problems with gambling – email [email protected] or call 01384 241292 to find out more. It also runs the Gambling Therapy website, which offers online support to problem gamblers and their friends and family.
- Gamblers Anonymous UK runs local support groups that use the same 12-step approach to recovery from addiction as Alcoholics Anonymous. There are also GamAnon support groups for friends and family.
In 2018, the maximum amount punters can bet on fixed odd betting machines was slashed from £100 to just £2 as part of the crackdown.
And adedicated NHS service has been set up to help gambling addicts as young as 13 to kick the habit.
Mr McArthur warned that although likely to reduce gambling harm, the banning of credit cards needed to be accompanied by other efforts.
He said: "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."
Culture Minister Helen Whately welcomed the ban but added "there is more to do."
Brigid Simmonds, chairwoman of the Betting and Gaming Council which represents the industry, said: "We will implement a ban on credit cards and indeed our members will go further to study and improve the early identification of those at risk.
"The use of credit cards were previously used as a potential marker of harm which might lead to further intervention with customers."
SNP MP Ronnie Cowan, who has spoken out about the gambling industry, said: "This is welcomed but we mustn't take our eyes off the prize and that's a completely new Gambling Act."
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