A ban on using credit cards for online gambling is one of the last minute recommendations submitted as part of a government review of gambling regulation.
According to The Guardian, mandatory levy on gambling firms to fund addiction treatment and a reduction in the maximum bet on fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) are also among the ideas pitched during a consultation by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).
Government ministers have faced calls from lobbyists to introduce concrete measures to tackle gambling addiction in the UK and to address the gulf between the amount spent on problem gambling versus other forms of addiction.
Thinktank ResPublica found that the annual spend on problem gambling research, education and treatment in England is only £133 per person, compared with £377 on drug addiction and £385 on alcohol misuse. They believe that a mandatory tax of 1% on bookmakers’ profits would help to bridge the funding gap by raising an additional £135 million.
GambleAware and Citizens’ Advice have both also called for a mandatory levy to better fund treatment.
Campaigners add that for those who become addicted to online gambling, credit cards help to fuel the addiction. The extra credit increases provided by the credit card companies can allow customers to gamble for longer and leave them in far greater debt.
Lobbyists have also urged politicians to respond to the problem of fixed-odds betting terminals (FOBTs) with the government reportedly ready to slash the permitted stake in the electronic slot machines from £100 to £2.
The proposal, however, has been fiercely opposed by bookmakers, who derived more than half of their revenue from the controversial machines last year.
A recent study revealed that an estimated 430,000 people in the UK suffer from serious gambling addiction, while a total of more than two million people are addicted to gambling or at risk of developing a problem.