On 21 February 2019 the Gambling Commission ("Commission") announced that it was calling for evidence on two issues as part of its work to prevent gambling related harms.

Gambling on credit cards

In March 2018 the Commission reported that concerns had been raised about allowing gambling on credit cards due to the increased risk that consumers would gamble with money they didn't have.

The Commission is now seeking feedback from stakeholders to consider whether the use of credit cards for online gambling should be restricted or prohibited. As well as the practical implications of such a change, the Commission is keen to consider any possible consequences for consumers, for example leading customers who might have used a credit card to instead secure riskier credit like payday loans.

As well as undertaking its own research into the use of credit cards the Commission would like feedback from stakeholders, particularly in respect of:

  • any information that will assist in developing a full picture of gambling with credit cards, including the scale of their use for gambling and the associated risks; and
  • evidence of effective harm prevention measures that might serve as alternatives to prohibiting or restricting gambling with credit cards.

The Commission suggests that harm prevention measures could include card-blocking facilities that enable consumers to block gambling transactions via their credit cards, or the imposition of account limits until an operator is sure that the customer is able to afford the amount they gamble.

The consultation document can be found here

Player protections on Category B gaming machines

Following the government's consultation on gaming machines the Commission is calling for evidence to meet some of the challenges that were outlined, especially in regards to the effectiveness of player protections on Category B gaming machines.

The Commission is now looking to get views on implementing the following measures:

  • making tracked play mandatory across B1, B2 and B3 machines, which would mean operators would be better equipped to prevent harm by identifying players at risk of harm more effectively;
  • extending to B1 and B3 machines the kinds of protections, such as player alerts, that are in place on B2 machines (i.e. FOBTs); and
  • reviewing steps to make alert-setting more effective.

Specifically, the consultation would like to hear about:

  • evidence of any steps that the industry is taking to explore the measures set out above;
  • timescales related to the introduction of these measures or alternative controls;
  • plans for (or the outcome of) any evaluation into player protection measures; and
  • evidence of any implementation issues and, where appropriate, evidence of any alternative measures that meet the concerns highlighted above.

The Commission will also take into account the views of the public in considering the balance between protecting vulnerable people and allowing people to gamble as they choose.

The consultation document can be found here.

Key takeaways

Operators are encouraged to respond to the consultation, which follows another recent call for evidence around blocking software.

The Commission has been tough on operators who are not doing enough identify and deal with problem gamblers, and this consultation presents the next step towards stronger regulation.