The gambling industry can’t seem to do right for doing wrong at the moment.
The ban on using credit cards to gamble with has been in effect since mid-May, and for many people it couldn’t have come soon enough. Gambling with money you don’t have goes against every responsible gambling message out there, so it was a sensible piece of legislation in every sense.
However it hasn’t taken long for a loophole to be exposed, and the relatively new Pay by Phone option available at more and more online gambling sites is the culprit.
What is Pay by Phone?
The option to pay via phone bill was a welcome addition to many online bookies’ banking options, offering higher levels of convenience and especially useful for bettors who tend to mostly use betting apps.
The punter can instantly deposit up to £40 a day up to a maximum of £240 per month to their online betting account, and this will be added to their phone bill a the end of month.
There is nothing wrong with the concept in theory, but there is one glaring issue: customers are perfectly able to pay their phone bill using a credit card.
It could even be argued that adding gambling debts to a monthly bill is effectively gambling on credit, even if paid off using a debit card.
Calls for Action
There are already many voices calling for Pay by Phone to be removed as an option on betting sites, with one recovering gambling addict going one step further and pointing the finger at the industry themselves:
“It’s like there’s no safe place, it’s like they [the gambling industry] are always on your back,”
I’m not sure it’s quite as pre-meditated as that, but it certainly is an issue that needs a resolution.
Dr Henrietta Bowden Jones is a spokeswoman for the Royal College of Psychiatrists and also the director of the National Problem Gambling Clinic, and she commented:
“The whole point of banning credit card use for gambling was to ensure consumer safety in relation to avoiding spending more than one could afford, but this seems to me to be a loophole through which gambling could still occur and cause financial harm.”
So far no solution has been offered but an unnamed trade group representing gambling firms has said that they are working to make sure their members follow the rules.
Responsible Gambling on TV
In the defence of gambling firms, they have been doing their bit lately, with many doing right by their staff during the lockdown.
Plus, the newly formed British Gambling Council has announced that its’ operator members will dedicate 20% of their TV and radio advertising to responsible gambling messages.
This is unrelated to the Pay by Phone credit loophole, but follows the 6 week advertising ban that was voluntarily put in place during lockdown to protect vulnerable people. It was reported on this site here.
This new arrangement will go on indefinitely as part of the industry’s commitment to tackling problem gambling.