Betting with borrowed money on borrowed time

Credit Cards
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With the UKGC launching a new consultation this summer, British consumers could soon be facing a ban on betting with credit cards. But is credit card betting really any less safe than taking out short-term loans or chancing it with unlicensed operators?


On 24 July, the UK’s Gambling Commission announced that it would be launching a new consultation that would look at the impact of gambling with credit cards and consider new options for regulation. The 12-week consultation, which kicks off in August, could lead to fresh restrictions in the type of payment methods used to fund gambling activities. Following the lead of Australia and New Zealand, it seems the GC are contemplating an outright ban on credit card betting – though they say they’ll weigh up input from both the public and industry stakeholders before coming to any decisions.

In a release published on the UKGC website, the Commission revealed that the review had been prompted by the cautionary words of the Responsible Gambling Strategy Board. According to the RGSB, “gambling with borrowed money significantly increases the risk that consumers will gamble with more money than they can afford”. In response, the UKGC’s executive director Paul Hope declared that “gambling with borrowed money is known to be a risk factor for consumers, so we think there is a need for action.” The question remains, what action is proportionate to the risk?

It’s not controversial to say that, if you’re going to risk your money, it should be money that you actually have – which is a convincing enough argument against the use of high-interest borrowing to fund your next bet as Ascot. Nevertheless, a movement away from a cash-based economy and the birth of a more financial literate consumer tends to mean that many people use credit cards in much more savvy ways. Far from the world of dodgy payday loans, numerous Brits now take advantage of zero-percent interest credit cards to help them manage their monthly spending, and in the case of America, credit cards are by the far the norm for any day-to-day spend.

This isn’t to say that a ban is a terrible idea, but rather that the UKGC will need to weigh up the equivalent risks of driving consumers towards unethical loan companies or black market betting sites. Meanwhile, restrictions on credit-card betting could have another side effect on an already growing trend in the industry: the unstoppable rise of cryptocurrency betting. Perhaps regulators should be careful what they wish for.

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