There's an old maxim that you should only gamble what you can afford to lose. While this is pretty sound advice, if you're playing amazing new online pokies and you run out of money, access to credit could be tempting. After all, you can pay it back later, right? It's precisely this kind of thinking that can lead people into heavy gambling debt, so industry regulators have been looking into the risks of using borrowed money to gamble.
In June 2020, the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) made the decision to ban credit cards as a payment option at gambling venues in order to protect players from harmful spending. There were some concerns at the time that this measure would cause other problem gambling issues as an unintended side-effect of the ban. Concerns included whether the ban would be effective, and whether players would simply use other mechanisms, including illegal money lenders, to borrow money for gambling activities.
Was The UK Credit Card Ban A Good Thing?
The UKGC has been monitoring the impact of the credit card ban and released its interim findings on 2 November 2021. According to the report, there were several positive indicators. Players have found that the ban did actually them to control their gambling spend. There has been no increase in players using other forms of borrowed money, and there was no spike in money transfers or ATM withdrawals from credit cards in the three months after the ban.
“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," said Andrew Rhodes, Interim Chief Executive of the UKGC.
Will Credit Cards Be Banned In NZ Casinos?
The UK's regulatory framework has struck a good balance between allowing players as much freedom as possible, while still keeping a strict eye on operators to ensure compliance. However, New Zealand's online casino industry remains murky.
In 2019, the government was reported to be considering banning the use of credit cards for gambling, but these plans have not yet come to pass. In the absence of a clear regulatory framework, it may be difficult to get offshore casino operators to comply, but some Kiwi banks are stepping up to the responsibility of looking after their customers' well-being when it comes to gambling with borrowed money.
Kiwibank announced earlier this year that it is introducing a gambling block option that allows its customers to block online casino transactions on their Visa debit or credit cards.
“When our customers trust us enough to discuss their gambling addiction, we’re able to really help them. We work with them to develop a solution that restores their mana and retains their dignity; without any judgement – it gives them a real and impactful choice," said Head of Sustainability Julia Jackson.
Around 75% of the customers involved in the pilot phase of the project managed to keep the block in place for 3 months, with an average saving of $10000. If a voluntary block can prove to be so effective, it stands to reason that a government ban on credit card gambling would be extremely beneficial to vulnerable players.