The UK will ban gambling companies from accepting credit cards for bets from April 14, as the government continues to tighten regulation of the industry.
About 800,000 consumers use credit cards to gamble, according to banking trade association U.K. Finance, and about 22 per cent of these are estimated to be problem gamblers, said the Gambling Commission, Britain's betting regulator. Some banks have introduced tools that allow customers to curtail their own gambling.
The credit card ban will pour cold water on any hopes in the industry that the government of Boris Johnson, elected with a majority last month, might take a softer approach toward betting regulation than his predecessors.
"In the past year we have introduced a wave of tougher measures," said Culture Minister Helen Whately. "But there is more to do. We will be carrying out a review of the Gambling Act to ensure it is fit for the digital age and we will be launching a new nationwide addiction strategy in 2020."
The new rules come after the U.K. last year slashed stake limits on in-store fixed-odd betting terminals.
The decision shook the industry and accelerated its push into the U.S., where a Supreme Court ruling in 2018 opened the door to sports betting across the country for the first time.
British and Irish bookmakers like William Hill Plc, GVC Holdings Plc and Flutter Entertainment Plc have rushed to partner and merge with U.S. firms to grab a slice of the new business.