Why Did the UKGC Ban the Use of Credit Cards for Online Gambling?

UKGC Ban on Credit Cards

Key takeways:

  • The UKGC decided to ban the use of credit cards for online gambling starting from 14 April 2020 by the reason to protect users from possible financial harm.
  • According to UK Finance, 800,000 people used a credit card for gambling in 2018 and according to research conducted by the UKGC, 22% of credit card users were problem gamblers.
  • Many players have welcomed the ban understanding the risks behind the usage of credit cards for online gambling purposes.
  • The decision of the UKGC was also criticized by some since it could negatively affect the whole gambling industry; particularly online casinos who might lose players and revenue.
  • It was also argued that the ban could lead to an increase in alternative payment methods that are not as safe and that the ban is an infringement on personal freedom.

On 14 January 2020, the respected regulatory institution UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) published the announcement to ban the use of credit cards for online gambling. The decision came into effect on 14 April 2020 (three months later from the date of the announcement) and aimed to protect consumers from the potential financial harm that can result from using these cards to fund gambling activities. 

This move has been welcomed by many as a necessary step in ensuring that individuals can gamble safely and responsibly. However, it has also received criticism, with some arguing that the ban goes too far and could have unintended consequences. 

In this article, we will explore the reasons behind the UKGC’s decision and what kind of fruits this move has brought to both users and the whole gambling industry.

General Overview of the Ban on the Use of Credit Cards for Online Gambling

UKGC’s decision to ban credit cards for gambling applies to all forms of online gambling, including betting on sports events, buying lottery tickets and playing casino games. The ban does not include debit cards or other banking methods that are still permitted and readily available at casino sites (See the fastest payout casino sites in the UK here).

As statistics show, around 24 million people gamble in the United Kingdom, and almost half of this number (10.1 million users) give their preference to online gambling, with 800,000 users who use credit cards to fund their accounts. The research conducted by the UKGC clearly shows that 22% of the users who prefer the use of credit cards belong to the category of problem gamblers.

Concerns about the potential for financial harm to consumers drove the UKGC to prohibit credit card use for online gambling in January 2022. Gambling with credit cards can be particularly risky, as it allows individuals to gamble using money they do not have and may not be able to pay back. This can lead to significant financial problems and is particularly harmful to players who have a hard time controlling their gambling.

While the UKGC expressed their worries, they added that the ban may be inconvenient for those who use credit cards responsibly. However, it was decided that reducing the risk of harm to vulnerable players was the best course of action to take. 

The Main Reasons Behind the UKGC’s Decision

There were several primary reasons behind the UKGC’s decision to prohibit the use of credit cards for the sector of online gambling. These include:

  1. Protecting customers. One of the essential concerns was the potential for financial harm to consumers who give their preferences to credit cards to fund their accounts at online casinos and betting sites. It is commonly known that gambling with credit cards can be particularly risky, as it allows individuals to have negative banking balances. It can cause significant financial problems, including debt or even bankruptcy.
  2. Promoting responsible gambling. The UKGC was particularly worried about players with problem gambling since the use of credit cards can make it easier for individuals to gamble the sums they cannot afford to lose. By banning credit cards for gambling purposes, the UKGC reduced the risk and promoted more responsible behavior in this regard.
  3. Ensuring fairness in the gambling industry. The UKGC is committed to ensuring that the gambling industry is conducted fairly and transparently. By prohibiting credit cards, the Commission aimed to reduce the possibility of harm related to gambling and ensured that the industry operates ethically and responsibly.
  4. Protecting vulnerable individuals. The UKGC was highly concerned about vulnerable individuals, such as those who are experiencing financial difficulties or have a history of problem gambling, being disproportionately affected by using credit cards for the purpose of gambling. With the help of the ban, the UKGC intended to protect these individuals.

The ban has been met with positivity and negativity. Some have praised the decision as a necessary step in protecting consumers and promoting responsible gambling. Notwithstanding, others have argued that the ban goes too far and could negatively affect the gambling industry and individuals who use credit cards for the purpose of online gambling.

Criticisms and Potential Consequences of the Ban

It is not wondering that the credit card ban met a lot of criticism from regular gamblers and the owners of online gambling businesses. Some of the crucial criticisms of the ban include the following issues.

  • The right to freedom of choice. Some have argued that the ban is too restrictive and goes too far in regulating the gambling industry. Instead, individuals should be free to decide how to fund their gambling accounts and take responsibility for their own actions.
  • Impact on the overall gambling industry. Some critics have disputed that the ban could negatively impact the whole gambling industry, particularly if it decreases the number of people who gamble online. It could result in a decline in revenue for gambling companies, which could lead to job losses and other economic consequences. However, as of January 2023, there seems to be insufficient data to support these claims.
  • Increase in the use of less protective payment methods. Some people argued that the ban would lead to an increased usage of alternative payment methods, such as e-Wallets. The argument was that these may not provide the same level of consumer protection as credit cards, which offer the ability to dispute charges and seek refunds in the event of fraud or other issues.
  • Difficulty in enforcing the ban. The last point for disagreement was that the ban may be difficult to enforce, as it would be challenging for the UKGC to monitor and prevent the usage of credit cards. Today we know that no UKGC-licensed casinos support credit cards.

    However, we also know that there are non-UKGC-licensed casinos that accept UK players and do offer the option of gambling with credit cards. Thus, individuals are able to circumvent the ban and can continue utilizing their credit cards to deposit to online casinos. 

How Does the Ban Protect Players?

The essential idea of the ban was to reduce the risks of financial harm caused by online gambling. When users use their credit cards to place their bets in an online casino or betting site, there is a high probability they can borrow money from the bank. 

Borrowing money can be risky, especially if these users are not careful about how much they are spending. In addition, if they cannot pay back the money in a timely manner, they may be charged interest and fees, which can add up quickly and significantly increase the overall costs of gambling. 

By prohibiting the use of such cards, the UK government aimed to reduce the risk of financial harm by making it more difficult for people to use borrowed money to charge their gambling accounts.


The decision of the UK Gambling Commission to ban the use of credit cards for online gambling has been met with both support and criticism. On the one hand, the ban has been embraced by many who believe it was necessary for users’ protection from potential financial harm.

However, on the other hand, there have been concerns that the ban goes too far and has negatively affected the gambling industry and individuals who used to use credit cards for the purpose of funding their gambling accounts.

Due to insufficient data, we do not yet know the full impacts of the ban, but it is likely that many people have continued gambling using alternative payment methods. It is also possible that problem gamblers have continued gambling with credit cards on casino sites that are not licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, as these are foreign sites not covered by the ban.

The prohibition of credit cards for online gambling has still been a crucial development in regulating the gambling industry and protecting those who are vulnerable. It is important that the UKGC continues to monitor the ban’s impact and take steps to ensure that it effectively protects consumers and promotes responsible gambling practices.


Can you use a credit card at a casino?

If you are a resident of the United Kingdom and are playing at a casino site licensed by the UK Gambling Commission, it is impossible to use your credit card for online gambling. However, alternative casino sites that are not governed by the same rules still exist which allow UK players to use credit cards.

Can you gamble with a credit card in UK?

After changes in UK legislation dated 14 April 2020, it is impossible to make any deposit with a credit card at a UKGC-licensed casino site. However, players can use their credit cards to pay for lottery tickets at physical stores.

Can you buy lottery tickets with a credit card in UK?

Starting on 14 April 2020, the UK Gambling Commission banned the usage of credit cards for online gambling, which includes lottery tickets. However, the ban does not apply to lottery tickets that are purchased in a physical store. Thus, it is still possible to buy lottery tickets with the help of credit cards in the UK.

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