In a free society like the UK, people a supposed to be able to do and say as they wish within the confines of the law. The only time the government should try to interfere with a UK resident’s freedom is if the government is trying to legislate something that protects vulnerable people.
Why Gambling Laws Cannot Prohibit Players from Credit-Money Gambling
It’s under the cause of protecting vulnerable people that the UK government tries to regulate the UK’s robust online gambling community. It scares the UK government that as many as 12 million adults have opened some kind of an online gambling account.
In their eyes, more online gamblers will quickly translate into more problem gamblers. In all fairness, there is data that supports the UK government’s view on this matter.
How the UK Government Regulates Online Gambling
First, it should be noted that the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) is the UK government’s regulatory agency for overseeing all forms of gambling in the UK. It’s the Commission that is charged with implementing and enforcing gambling legislation.
Via direct legislation, there are two primary laws that the UK government has created to control online gambling in the UK. The first law is a mandate that all online operators that are offering online gambling services to UK residents must be licensed through the UKGC. This law has been in place for many years.
The UK government’s second and more recent attempt to regulate online gambling came in the form of prohibiting the use of credit cards to fund gambling accounts. This was done in 2020. There will be more discussion on this topic in a following section.
There is a third regulation that has been mandated directly by the UKGC. That regulation involves gambling operator inclusion of access to the UKGC’s GamStop Self-Exclusion scheme. By mandate, all licensed UK online gambling operators are required to subscribe as members of GamStop. Failure to do so could result in fines and the termination of operator licensing.
How Does the GamStop Program Work?
GamStop is a voluntary program that is available for UK residents who want or need help staying away from online gambling websites. UK gamblers can register for free and only need to provide certain personal information that will be used to identify and block them. Also, it’s the gamblers who will decide how long their self-exclusion will last.
Based on database information, UK operators are required to block registered gamblers until the gambler’s self-prescribed exclusion period expires.
For the most part, that is exactly what happens. However, GamStop is limited to UK operators who are members of GamStop through their operator’s licenses.
If a gambler registers with GamStop and then decides they made a mistake, they do have ways to get around GamStop until their self-exclusion officially expires. Some of these ways include:
- Seeking out access to unlicensed non-GamStop UK operators
- Offshore online gambling under other regulatory agencies
- Using blockchain protection to gamble with crypto-only websites
- Using other identities (with permission) to open new accounts
Why Gambling Laws Cannot Prohibit Players from Gambling with Credit Money
At this point, we want to circle back to the discussion related to the prohibition of credit cards as an online gambling site banking method.
While the law has been implemented, UK online gamblers are still using their credit cards to fund gambling accounts. How is that possible? Well, it turns out that passing a law and enforcing that law are two entirely different matters.
The first issue the UK government faces related to this law is the lack of enforcement resources. Without the money and manpower to constantly monitor online gambling operators and credit card companies, everyone is left to operate within the “honor system.”
In this case. compliance is difficult to obtain because the gamblers want to gamble, the operators want more business, and the credit card companies just want to process transactions as requested by customers.
There is also an issue related to unlicensed UK operators that aren’t very fond of following rules. If an online gambler is properly motivated, they can easily find casino sites that accept credit cards on NonGamStopWager.com.
Clearly, telling UK residents they can’t use their credit cards for their online gambling activities is a violation of their personal freedoms. Therefore, it’s hard to punish gamblers who are simply exercising their rights.
Of course, the UK government could go after online operators and credit card companies for processing these transactions, but these entities aren’t going to comply. What that leaves is a law that really has no teeth.
The same thing happened in the U.S. when Congress passed the Unlawful Internet Gambling Enforcement Act of 2006. The law clearly stated gamblers could not fund offshore gambling accounts with credit cards, but there is little to no evidence that anyone ever got prosecuted or fined for violating the law. Yes, U.S. gamblers kept on gambling online and using their credit cards to do so.