Calls for Spain and Ireland to Ban Credit Cards in Online Gambling

  • FACUA urging Spain's government to implement ban on top of other gambling restrictions 
  • Problem Gambling Ireland believes measure similar to UK's will help curtail gambling debt 
  • UKGC announced ban on credit card usage for online gambling will come into effect on April 14
laptop user holding a credit card
The UK’s announcement earlier this week of a credit card ban in online gambling has led to calls for similar measures to be enacted in Spain and Ireland. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

A growing trend observed

Organizations in Spain and Ireland have called for credit card bans after UK lawmakers announced a decision to prohibit their use for online gambling purposes earlier this week.

The Spanish FACUA-Consumidores en Acción and Problem Gambling Ireland are the two independent bodies pushing for the approval of such a ban in their respective country.

Spain urged to further curb gambling influence

Spanish consumer rights group FACUA-Consumidores en Acción is calling on Consumer Affairs Minister Alberto Garzon to bring in such a ban.

FACUA acknowledged that the gambling sector restrictions proposed in early January 2020 by the coalition are a positive step forward in curbing the influence of gambling in the country. However, it wants the government to take another major step further.

a credit card ban would stop most gamblers from racking up debt

FACUA believes a credit card ban would stop most gamblers from racking up debt by gambling money away that they do not actually have to lose. It said: “This measure would help to fight against gambling, a scourge that in recent years has continued to increase, especially in vulnerable groups such as youth and adolescents, as associations of rehabilitated players and studies in this field have confirmed.”

Appeal for Ireland to follow suit

Problem Gambling Ireland, a betting industry lobbying group, is appealing to the Irish government to follow in the UK’s footsteps.

It believes gambling debt can be significantly curtailed with the introduction of a credit card ban. Chief executive Barry Grant said:

Having a facility for people to gamble with money they don’t have is extremely dangerous.”

He added that it is unlikely that a ban would be introduced before the long-awaited independent regulator for the gambling industry in Ireland is in place. The new role, which has been approved by the Irish government, will not be filled until the end of 2020 at the earliest. With a general election coming up, this date could be pushed back even further.

Ireland has its own issues with gambling. Recent figures show that Irish people spent almost €10bn ($11.15bn) on gambling in 2019. This puts Ireland in seventh place among the countries with the highest gambling rates worldwide.

The ban in the UK

The decision to ban the use of credit cards for online gambling in the UK was announced on January 14 by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC). The ban will come into effect on April 14, 2020. A limit will also be imposed on the size of debit card deposits.

The regulatory body categorizes 22% of all UK online consumers that use credit cards to gamble as being “problem gamblers”.

Financial analysts do not believe this ban will have much of an effect on the bottom line of operators. According to estimates, less than 2% of Flutter Entertainment bettors solely use credit cards to make deposits.