Ministers mull crackdown on betting firms who let punters use credit cards
Culture Secretary Jeremy Wright has warned betting firms and banks that they could face a ban on the use of credit cards for gambling.
Under plans to make the industry more "socially responsible", the Cabinet minister has vowed to summon betting firms and banks to a meeting on the practice ahead of a major review on debt-fulled gambling by the industry watchdog.
It is estimated that up to a fifth of deposits on online gambling sites are currently placed using credit cards.
Mr Wright said: "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.
"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."
The meeting comes ahead of a review by industry regulator the Gambling Commission which could lead to a toughening of the rules designed to stop people borrowing in order to place bets.
The probe - which launches next month - will look at the risks of allowing people to gamble using credit both on and offline.
Mr Wright said: "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."
Responding to the proposals, Matt Zarb-Cousin of the Campaign for Fairer Gambling said: "If you went to the bank and asked for a loan because you wanted to go to the casino you would be laughed out of the branch so there is no justification for allowing gambling via credit cards.
"Betting more than you can afford is a sign of problem gambling, so permitting gambling on credit cards facilitates and endorses harmful activity."
Labour last year vowed to end the practice following its own year-long review of the gambling industry.
"Debt-financed betting on credit cards is wrong," Shadow Culture Secretary Tom Watson told the Guardian at the time.
"It allows people to bet more than they can afford and particularly affects gambling addicts. Labour will ban it."
The hint at a fresh crackdown on gambling comes after a major Government row over a decision to slash the maximum stake on Fixed Odds Betting Terminals.
Following a u-turn by the Treasury and the dramatic resignation of minister Tracey Crouch, the Government agreed to cut the maximum stake on the high-street betting machines from £100 to £2 from this April.