UK vs Casinos Not on Gamstop
Given how useful they are in so many ways, why is it that credit cards cannot be used to gamble online at licensed UK casinos?
Only casinos not on Gamstop accept credit cards to fund your online account, but why is this?
The move to block the use of credit cards at licensed UK online casinos was made in April 2020 by the United Kingdom Gambling Commission (UKGC).
It is one of the protective measures taken by the UKGC to make online gambling less convenient and attractive for UK customers. And like many of the UKGC's measures, it has drawn criticism from UK punters who dislike the changes to their long-time hobby.
Others claim that such measures are pushing customers away from UKGC-licensed casinos and over to non Gamstop casinos licensed abroad, where credit cards are still accepted.
But what does this change mean to those in Britain who enjoy online casino gaming, and what options are left for those who prefer using credit cards online?
Why Did The UKGC Ban Credit Cards?
As part of its mission to create a safe online casino environment and protect those at risk of gambling addiction, the UKGC has introduced restrictions and limits for the UK's online casino sites. These include enforced delays on slots games and limited bonuses, both of which aim to reduce the appeal and convenience of online gambling.
Removing the possibility of using credit cards to fund an online casino account is another measure designed to protect problem gamblers, specifically by helping to prevent people from gambling on credit and potentially losing money they don't have.
Given the timing, with the ban introduced in April 2020, you might think that the coronavirus lockdown in the UK (and the corresponding upwards trend in online gambling) may have been a factor. However, the ban on credit cards was announced in January 2020, well before the lockdown was on anyone's radar.
As with the UKGC's other restrictions, such as those mentioned above, one result is that punters simply move to a casino not on Gamstop instead.
These casinos – not licensed in the UK – do not need to adhere to UKGC rules but will accept UK customers. This raises serious questions about how effective measures such as the credit card ban can be.
Debit Cards and Prepaid Cards
UK online casinos tend to accept debit cards and prepaid cards with no problems. While some users may struggle to see the difference between these types of cards and traditional credit cards, there is a fundamental contrast and that lies in where the money is coming from.
When using a debit card or prepaid card, the funds you are depositing are those you already possess. Debit cards take funds directly from a bank account, while prepaid cards are paid for in advance.
Credit cards, meanwhile, enable access to funds on credit and so have the potential to allow debt to build.
Debit and prepaid cards are therefore a wise choice for any online casino customer who aims to stay responsible and keep tabs on their spending.
E-Wallets and Non Gamstop Gambling
E-Wallets are a great option for any kind of spending online, and the most successful brands are quickly becoming household names.
It's not uncommon for UK internet users to already have an account with PayPal, for example, for use at any number of online stores. Other payment methods like MuchBetter, NETELLER, and Skrill provide good alternatives, so shop around to see which ones are accepted where you want to use them and see what works best for you.
Be aware, however, that since the credit card ban it is not permitted to use a credit card to fund an E-Wallet for gambling at a UKGC-licensed casino.
Gambling With Bitcoin and Other Cryptocurrencies
Another option for funding an online gaming account – but one you are probably more likely to find at a casino not on Gamstop – is the use of cryptocurrencies.
These digital currencies, the most well-known of which is Bitcoin, use decentralised blockchain technology for an extremely high level of security.
Using cryptocurrencies effectively removes central banks from the equation, potentially allowing for greater levels of anonymity online.
While some foreign casino sites may allow a degree of anonymity when playing online, you should know that any UKGC-licensed casinos which accept cryptocurrencies will still require detailed account verification.
Are Credit Cards accepted at Non Gamstop or 'No Registration' Casinos?
The short answer is 'yes', but if your first reaction is 'what's a casino not on Gamstop?', it's probably a good sign that you have your gambling under control.
Using Gamstop, UK players can self-exclude from all UK online casino and gambling sites with one action, as it’s a scheme which functions across all licensed UK operators. A 'non Gamstop casino' is simply a casino site that is licensed and regulated outside of the UK, but which still accepts UK players (even those with a Gamstop exclusion).
The UKGC only has the power to regulate its licensees, and as non-UK casinos are not licensed by this organisation, they are not required to follow these regulations.
This means foreign casinos are not subject to the credit card ban, but also that they do not need to impose the UKGC measures designed to restrict gameplay, such as spin timers or deposit restrictions.
Many have criticised this 'spoiler' approach to casino gaming, but it's hard to argue against any measure designed to protect vulnerable people. However, with each new measure introduced the flow of UK players to casino not on Gamstop only grows. As this runs counter to the goals of the UKGC, questions need to be asked if this is the most effective approach.
Conclusion – Safe Online Casino Play is the Goal
In making the decision to ban credit cards at UK casino sites, the UKGC published a report that showed over 20% of the 800,000+ people using credit cards to gamble at UK casinos were what they termed 'problem gamblers'.
Any steps taken to prevent vulnerable people from falling into debt should be supported, yet the continued availability of non-UK casinos – and their acceptance of UK players and credit cards – reveals the flaws in this system.
For those UK punters at risk of addiction, the UKGC does as much if not more than any similar body in the world to protect them. Other convenient payment methods are available at every UK casino site, so the credit card ban is unlikely to leave anyone high and dry.
All of which points to one conclusion: if you feel you have good control over your gambling behaviour, a casino not on Gamstop may be a fun place to play. But if you have issues around impulse control and gambling addiction, the regulated UK gaming sector is likely to prove a safer environment.