While the morality of betting on credit cards has never been a question for the amusements industry, culture secretary Jeremy Wright’s approach to the issue shows a cooperative attitude towards the industry – and one that his fellow politicians could learn from.
Culture secretary Jeremy Wright is set to make his first big move in the industry after vowing meet gaming companies and banks regarding gambling on credit cards.
Taking a refreshingly anodyne approach to the issue, the new secretary said he wants to make the industry more “socially responsible” by investigating whether online players should be able to gamble on credit.
“Protecting people from the risks of gambling-related harm is vital. All businesses with connections to gambling – be that bookmakers, social media platforms or banks – must be socially responsible,” he said.“The government will not hesitate to act if businesses don’t continue to make progress in this area and do all they can to ensure vulnerable people are protected.We should ask if it is right that people should be able to gamble on credit and this is an area that the Gambling Commission are going to look into it.”
The proposed meeting comes ahead of a review by the Gambling Commission which could lead to a toughening of the rules designed to stop people borrowing in order to place bets.
Launching next month, the probe will measure the impact of allowing people to gamble using credit both on and offline.While Wright is taking a stern, but seemingly fair approach to the issue, Labour’s Tom Watson has already promised to end the practice should the party ever return to power with him as culture secretary.
However,like a lot of bold Labour party policies, the problem it attempts to fix is far too complex for such a simple answer.For example, if credit cards are banned, what is to stop the owner of the card transferring funds to a debit card, and simply using that? And even if that is resolved, what is to stop addicted players taking pay- day loans – or worse, loan shark money – to fund their gaming?
Prohibition may be a soundbite-friendly solution, but it assumes that problem gamblers are not prepared to find a work-around.This is why regulation changes must always be well- researched and carefully considered, as even the best-intentioned proposals can end up falling short of the mark.
That may be obvious in the case of a credit card ban, but a recent report regard- ing the failures of Gam- Stop’s self-exclusion scheme is more surprising – especially as a GambleAware survey found that 83 percent of those signed up found it helpful. The investigation, however, found that players have been able to cheat the system, with GamStop’s CEO Fiona Palmer stating she is “deeply concerned” with the results.
“We are taking on board the feedback and we are looking to improve the scheme,” she added.
That feedback will include the fact that self- excluders could quite easily change their second name to avoid detection by the scheme, meaning that persistent problem gamblers could continue betting online.
Indeed, it is in the best interest of both players, operators and regulators that any changes to the industry for the sake of social responsibility – whether it be banning credit card betting or self-exclusion schemes – are effective not just in principle, but in practice. While labour’s Watson continues to back slapdash solutions for the industry,Wright’s inclusion of both banks and operators on the issue shows a genuine interest in finding a long-term solution.