During the pandemic, the online gambling industry saw record growth. This spike in online casino usage is both amazing and worrying depending on your view on gambling. Due to this increased usage, some international markets like the UK have taken a stricter stance on regulations and limiting factors to the online gambling markets.
One of the most significant changes seen so far limiting specific payment methods for usage at these online gambling sites. In particular, and perhaps most noticeably, credit cards have been hit with the most severe wave of restrictions. The UKGC made a final ruling on the matter, stating the credit cards inspire players to gamble beyond their means, often leading to exposure to problem gambling and accumulation of debt. Some consider this a fair decision, while others feel it is a restriction on their rights. This article aims to explore the current situation regarding payment options at UK gambling sites in comparison to non-GamStop casinos.
On April 14, 2020, Great Britain’s gambling industry enacted its credit card ban.. This was proposed as a vital layer of protection for consumers and a way to prevent exposure to problem gambling habits. The move to ban credit cards was made in conjunction with other regulations, including stricter wage limits, game timers, and the removal of auto spin features from their sites.
The credit card ban has been angled to protect consumers from financial harm further and ultimately reduce the risks of abuse from consumers who gamble with money they do not have. The commissions the UKGC put together have highlighted a ‘tracker survey” indicating that 22% of credit card gamblers were problem gamblers, with 25% of them experiencing moderate levels of harm to themselves.
The other pillar they lean on is that most online gamblers were unaware of the high fees charged by credit card companies when used for online gambling that help exacerbate the situation as it motivates some consumers to chase losses to get back to even than the typically only gambler. For now it seems that only non-GamStop casinos will accept this method of payment, and for a majority of UK residents these are off limits to them.
The first up on alternatives to using a credit card for online gamblers looking to avoid non-GamStop casinos would naturally be debit cards. Unlike a credit card, a debit cards are linked directly to a consumer’s bank account and pull funds from their accounts. This is an attractive alternative as there is no way to spend more than someone has in their account. However, one drawback is that players can still potentially overspend or spend their full balance if they are not careful.
Unlike a debit card, a prepaid card is not linked to any such account. However, a customer will preload money onto the card like a gift card and use it just like any other credit/debit card. This payment method prevents users from spending more than what is loaded onto it, although it sometimes comes with some issues for Know Your Customer (KYC) checks.
An E-Wallet is an electronic card used for transactions made solely online through a computer or smartphone. This virtual payment method then provides the same utility as a credit, debit card, or banking account when purchasing online.
However, an individual’s bank account will still need to be linked to register for an e-wallet and for depositing funds in these accounts. It should be noted that while some E-Wallets can process credit card payments for funding. The use of this feature is not permitted at UK online casinos to make credit card deposits through E-Wallets, and is reserved for casinos not GamStop only.
Cryptocurrency, which has gained a lot of traction over the last decade, is a virtual payment method secured by cryptography that makes it nearly impossible to counterfeit or double-spend. Many cryptocurrencies are based on a decentralized network of blockchain technology, a distributed ledger enforced by a network of computers.
There are four main ways (depending on the region you live) that consumers can get Bitcoin and others digital currencies:
- Sign up for brokerages that offer crypto platforms like Robinhood,
- Purchase through cryptocurrency exchanges like Coinbase or Cashapp
- Find a local cryptocurrency ATM or store, and the most common
- Using a platform where you received Bitcoin/Cryptocurrency in exchange for completing tasks.
The benefits most users of Crypto appreciate are speed and anonymity. This provides users who utilize a decentralized currency for their purchases. However, it must be noted while this is an excellent way to hide a user’s identity, UKGC-regulated casinos will still require verification, account checks, and some form of KYC when funds are deposited through these means. The same can be said about non-GamStop casinos, although some less trustworthy sites may promise a lack of verification.
Once you leave the UKGC and look into casinos not registered with GamStop, many of the newer restrictions and regulations are not present. However, using a credit card for gambling has some consumers listing significant advantages as preferred to their standard cash accounts.
First, for many, a cashback option or points reward program from their credit card provider is one of the essential things most users will mention. As these programs incentivize spending to accumulate points to use towards travel, cash back, or other perks, their credit cards allow users to see this as an easy way to manufacture spending for those points and reach their milestones easier than a typical day to day actions when they were going to be spending the money anyway.
Second, you have limits; some say a credit card for gambling should be avoided as there are no limits; however, each credit card, when issued for the new account, will come with a strict limit on it that customers will not be able to go over or deposit more than your card’s limit would allow and could be a reason sites not on GamStop still allow for funding via credit cards.
The negatives, of course, are what we have seen already, additional fees, using the money you don’t have, and the chance to spiral into more debt because of these two. It is truly a balance of freedom of choice vs the possibility of being exposed to habits that could lead to overspending and problem gambling. Many people from both opinions argue, although ultimately it is up to the regulators within a country or region to decide what laws are created and enforced.