A betting industry lobby group has called for the Government to follow the UK and ban the use of credit cards by people when gambling online.
Problem Gambling Ireland said the introduction of such a ban here could have a significant impact in tackling gambling debt.
“Having a facility for people to gamble with money they don’t have is extremely dangerous,” said Problem Gambling Ireland’s chief executive Barry Grant.
However, Mr Grant said such a ban is unlikely to be introduced in Ireland until the country’s long-awaited independent gambling industry regulator is in place.
While, that office has been approved by Government it is not expected to be operating until the end of this year, at least, and could be delayed further after the upcoming general election.
The UK’s betting regulator — The Gambling Commission — has said that, as of April 14, British-based punters will not be able to use credit cards to make bets or deposit money into online betting accounts.
The UK ban will apply to all online and offline gambling products, with the sole exception of over-the-counter lottery tickets.
Before Christmas, Mr Grant described as “absolutely shocking” industry figures showing Irish punters gambled close to €10bn — including more than €800m on lottery and scratch card products — last year, making Ireland the seventh highest gambling country in the world.
“As a nation, we are developing an increasingly dysfunctional relationship with gambling,” he said at the time. Research by the UK’s betting regulator classes 22% of online gamblers, in the country, who use credit cards as “problem gamblers”.
The move follows a British government overview of the industry launched in November which was aimed at overhauling online casinos, including a ban on using credit cards for gambling online aimed at vulnerable people.
News of the ban hit most of the major betting stocks — including Paddy Power owner Flutter Entertainment — but analysts don’t foresee any crippling financial hit pending.
“The ban on credit card usage for UK gambling deposits likely represents a low single-digit percentage risk to related gaming revenues.
“The latest in a recent series of more onerous regulatory changes, it also acts as a further reminder that the UK opportunity is no longer what it once was,” said Davy analyst Michael Mitchell.
It is estimated that less than 2% of Flutter customers exclusively use credit cards to fund their online accounts.