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Gambling using credit money: the British experience

The development of gambling in Ukraine following its legalization two years ago does not stop even during the war. Despite the rather unfavourable conditions and threats, Ukrainian gambling continues to work, saves jobs, and helps the State and the AFU to bring us closer to our victory.

At the same time, the domestic gambling market development is rapidly going through almost all formation stages experienced by other countries with a long history of legal gambling.

It means that the world has time-tested answers to most challenges and problems faced by licensed gambling operators and gamblers in Ukraine. And both the national regulator and business can and should use this experience since it makes no sense to reinvent the wheel.

In addition, it is worth recalling that even stable and strong jurisdictions sometimes face gambling-related issues. It is not surprising since this sector is not static and unchanging and does not exist on its own but is part of a high-tech business.

That is why, for example, even in the UK, there are fundamental issues in the management of individual risks, although this jurisdiction is one of the most responsible in terms of creating gambler protection mechanisms.

For instance, in the UK, it’s on the table right now to enforce a real ban on the use of credit money by gamblers. And although such a ban was introduced back in 2020, it is still a common practice.

In its Little to Prevent study, the British GamCare charity organization argues that there are not enough safeguards to prevent/hinder such a practice as gambling with credit money.

GamCare specialists have published their conclusions that the current ban on using funds from credit cards for gambling is unable to limit such activities.

At GamCare’s Familiarization Seminar, in which representatives of the lending sector, debt support, gambling support services, scientists, politicians, regulators, and trade organizations took part, experts spoke about the main ways to circumvent the ban on the use of credit funds (through the use of overdrafts, instant unsecured loans, cash withdrawals or riskier credit lines such as payday loans and credit card transactions for gambling) and named three main ways to counter it.

1. The lending sector needs a “cultural change” with staff training to better understand how gambling can affect its customers.

2. Time delays between the loan application and the approval of crediting money to the account should be introduced, primarily for short-term instant unsecured loans.

3. Regulate (including the prohibition of) the provision of loans to those who may be negatively affected by gambling unless there are good reasons for it. These norms should be first of all introduced for those suffering from gambling addiction (ludopathy).

In his report, GamCare manager Colin Walsh noted:

“The ease of access to multiple lines and forms of credit in our 24/7 world allowed me and many others to gamble with borrowed money in a way which isn’t controlled… that is why by raising awareness of the signs of harmful gambling with lenders, I hope we are able to improve protection for people being harmed by gambling and give some time for reality checks and reflection and rather than regret and misery.”

For his part, financial ombudsman, leader, and head of consumer lending practice, John Wightman, stressed that companies must lend responsibly and make sure that customers do not find themselves worse off due to their actions. Wightman also noted that if a client believes to be treated unfairly by a creditor, he can contact the financial ombudsman service, and “we will see if we can help”.

Despite the fact that lending in Ukraine is not yet as developed as in Britain, and the level of interest in gambling is rather low, it is better to prevent problems than to deal with their consequences later. That is why we should pay attention to what colleagues from other countries are doing and implement successful risk management experience in domestic legislation and everyday business practice.


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