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Philip Toscano/PA Wire
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Philip Toscano/PA Wire
UK News

Christian charities welcome credit card ban on gambling but say much more can be done

by Tola Mbakwe

A ban on using credit cards has received praise from many Christian campaigners.

Customers will no longer be able to use credit cards to place bets after the gambling regulator introduced a new clamp down on the industry.

Firms face "tough enforcement action" from the Gambling Commission once the ban is introduced on 14th April, as the Government seeks to address the issue of problem gambling.

It will affect all gambling except lotteries where payment is made face to face, but warned it is only the first step.

Paul Morrison, policy advisor for the Joint Public Issues Team told Premier's News Hour this is one way the gambling industry cannot take advantage of vulnerable people.

"We know about 800,000 people use credit cards to gamble each year. Now many of them may well have the money and it may well not be a problem for them, but we do know that if you use a credit card to gamble, you're much more likely to be someone who has difficulty with gambling, and you're much more likely to be chasing your debt," he said.

"About one in five people who gamble using credit cards, we know having problems with the gambling so that that these people won't be allowed to gamble and that the industry won't be allowed to profit from them. It's a great thing."

The government has come under pressure to introduce bans for the use of credit cards over the past two years, with the regulator's own data showing that more than 165,000 customers made £46 million worth of credit card deposits in February last year.

The announcement is the latest blow to gambling businesses, after the government introduced a crackdown on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs), which saw the maximum stake for bets cut from £100 to £2.

CARE's Communications Manager, James Mildred welcomed the ban but insists much more can be done.

"We look forward to 2020 being a year of continued progress towards reforming our outdated gambling laws and bringing the betting industry more into line," he said.

"A mandatory levy should be introduced on gambling firms and action also needs to be taken on shirt sponsorship across football leagues.

"Problem gambling leads to relationship troubles, job losses, family breakdown and in extreme cases, suicide as well.

"The government has promised a review of the 2005 Gambling Act and we will be making the case then for significant changes to ensure stronger protections for those with gambling addictions."

Dr Alan Smith, Bishop of St Albans also called for more action.

"This is no more than a tweak to gambling legislation and regulation," he said. "Fundamental reform is needed if we are to ever make significant progress for the hundreds of thousands affected by gambling-related harm."

The announcement comes amid a period of increased scrutiny on the gambling sector, which has seen criticism in recent weeks over its close relationship with professional sport.

Last week, government ministers were told that the Football Association will not renew a controversial deal allowing gambling websites to screen live football matches.

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