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In recent years, the UK government has made significant inroads towards banning the use of credit cards for the funding of online/retail gambling accounts. They did this under the presumption that blocking the use of credit cards would help prevent problem gamblers from getting themselves too far into debt.
While there is very little evidence this will work with highly motivated online gamblers, using credit cards is now and will probably always be their favorite way of funding their gambling activities. It begs the question, “why do Brits prefer to pay by credit cards in casinos (online and retail)?”
The Advantages of Using Credit Cards to Fund Gambling Activities
When a large group of people shows a strong preference for something, there are usually good reasons for them having that preference. For more than two decades, UK gamblers have shown a strong preference for using credit cards in retail casinos and particularly when gambling online. Why is that?
Here is a list of reasons gamblers prefer credit cards as a funding option for their gambling activities:
- They can gamble with funds that aren’t actually in their possession and repay those funds at a later date
- Helps them keep track of their wins and losses
- It’s the most popular online gambling banking option, sometimes the only available option
- Credit cards are available at casinos without GamStop restrictions, which is why players prefer to use these sites due to the credit card ban in the UK. Non-GamStop sites will never be part of this scheme.
The most concerning reason on this list is the first one. If a gambler really wants to gamble but doesn’t have the cash to do so, credits cards will give them immediate access to the funds they need. It’s all good if the gambler wins and immediately pays off their credit card balances. Unfortunately, losses end up turning into debt when the unfortunate gambler can’t repay the amount they borrowed. More on this below.
It’s the last reason on this list that speaks to the growth of the online gambling industry. When a UK gambler wants to gamble online, they have to first figure out how to fund their online gambling account(s). While the options may vary from one gambling site to the next, credit card deposits/withdrawals are currently universal. Pretty much every online gambling site in every country where online operators are allowed to operate will transact business via credit cards. Convenience is always a big motivator for choosing one option over another option.
Reasons Not to Use Credits Cards for Gambling
On the surface, using credit cards for gambling activities might seem easy and convenient. Unfortunately, there are a couple of negatives that go with using this option.
First and foremost, retail and online casinos typically charge significant transactions fees for credit card transactions. Also, credit card companies will typically charge big fees for cash withdrawals made from retail locations. If a gambler is creating regular credit card transactions to support their gambling, the excessive fees can add up in a hurry.
The other negative of using credit cards is the accumulation of debt. Where most problem gambling issues start is when gamblers rely too heavily on credit cards for gambling. If they don’t or can’t repay their charges, the debt accumulates at interest rates that tend to be excessive and predatory. What happens when a problem gambler starts accumulating too much gambling debt? They start chasing losses, which often leads to more debt until the bubble bursts.
It’s the potential problem gambling issues that have led the UK government to pursue a vigorous campaign to prevent gamblers from using credit cards on gambling sites. The potential for problem gambling issues is also what led to the creation of the UK Gambling Commission’s GamStop online self-exclusion program.
While GamStop works well for problem gamblers who are committed to not gambling online, it does nothing to keep them from finding other ways to gamble until the voluntary self-exclusion period ends. GamStop gamblers are the reason so many excluded online gamblers are trying to find credit card casino sites at Casino-Wise.com, site that aren’t GamStop members and do accept credit cards.
As of now, the credit card ban is directed at operators who accept credit card transactions. To date, enforcement seems to be failing as evidenced by the fact so many online gambling sites still accept credit cards.