Online bingo players, and the rest of the online gambling community, were taken by surprise in January 2020 when the British government announced a ban on the use of credit cards for gambling starting from April 2020.
The ban was introduced after the Government’s Review of Gaming Machines and Social Responsibility Measures and the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC) carried out its own review of online gambling.
Research published at the time showed 24 million adults in the UK gamble and 10.5 million of them gamble online regularly. Separate research carried out by the UKGC found that 22% of online gamblers who were using credit cards to make deposits were considered problem gamblers, and an even higher percentage were classified as at risk.
Therefore, the ban was introduced in order to help address problem gambling and to try to protect those considered to be at risk from future gambling problems. At the time, 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. We also know that there are examples of consumers who have accumulated tens of thousands of pounds of debt through gambling because of credit card availability. There is also evidence that the fees charged by credit cards can exacerbate the situation because the consumer can try to chase losses to a greater extent.”
As mentioned by McArthur, a second reason for the ban was the high fees that credit card companies were charging when a player was effectively making a cash advance when using their credit cards to deposit at online bingo sites. This is because credit card companies classify gambling transactions as ‘cash advances’ and not purchases. They charge a percentage fee on any cash advance transaction just as they do when withdrawing cash from machine using a credit card.
The reaction of many was to assume that they would still be able to use their credit card for online gambling by using it to fund an eWallet. However, this loophole was closed at the same time as the credit card ban was introduced.
The credit card ban was extended to eWallets and all other Money Service Businesses (MSBs). Since then, eWallets must ensure that if a person does fund their account using a credit card the funds are not used at any gambling websites. As a result, players at licensed bingo sites will not be able to use their credit cards for transactions.
Luckily, there are plenty of other very easy ways to fund your online bingo account. Players can choose from several easy to use, safe, and entirely legal payment methods to enjoy playing bingo to their hearts’ content. Here are a few of the more popular options:
While you may not be able to use your credit card to play online bingo, there really are no major downsides to the credit card ban. It prevents players from being charged high fees and it helps to protect those at risk from gambling harm. There are several other excellent options so players can enjoy playing online bingo without any worries about how they will make payments.