UK to Lift the Ban on Debit Card Use on Gaming Machines

Home » UK to Lift the Ban on Debit Card Use on Gaming Machines
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In May 2024, the UK government announced that debit cards could now be used on physical slot machines throughout the country. It seems like an odd change considering regulators have been increasingly pushing for tighter controls, including limits on fixed-online betting terminals, but it’s one that makes perfect sense in a society that is increasingly pushing toward a cashless future.

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What the Changes Mean

The changes mean that players can use debit card payments when using slot machines in pubs, clubs, casinos, and other venues. Previously, players used indirect payment methods, such as downloading a mobile app or paying for tickets. The transition makes it easier to add money to the machine and puts these gaming cabinets on more of a level footing with the online betting industry.

Responsible gambling protocols will remain in effect:

  • A £20 single deposit limit
  • A £2 deposit limit for low-stakes slots and other games
  • A 30-second deposit delay (implemented to match the time it takes to withdraw cash from an ATM)
  • Session limits set by the staff and players (to be discussed)

Contactless payments will not be allowed, only those that require authorisation. This means that all payments require chip and PIN, unless they are processed using Apple Pay, which uses biometric authorisation.

Why Were Payments Not Allowed Previously?

The issue with debit cards is that they made it too easy for players to directly deposit onto the machines. By banning them, the government created a natural interruption in play, one that would give players time to think. Oftentimes, it only takes a break of a minute or two to reduce the risk of problem gambling, as it means they’re less likely to act on impulse, especially when they’re chasing losses with money they can’t afford to lose.

They could still deposit using debit cards online, though, and that has been one of the main complaints from offline operators. They have been going up against an industry that seems better equipped to provide players with a fast, seamless, and convenient way to gamble.  

Why Did the Government Make These Changes?

The government has taken many steps toward making online and offline gambling safer. These recent changes have largely been met with positive reactions, but there are concerns that they could promote irresponsible gambling. Gambling with Lives, a charity that supports those affected by gambling-related suicide, expressed concern over the changes, noting that they would make it “easier” to play and that improving access to “addictive machines” shouldn’t be seen as a positive.

The goal, it seems, is to support the land-based gambling industry, one that has taken a hit with the rise of online gambling. They want to support the many businesses and employees that rely on these machines while also keeping the offline sector on par with the online one. It likely won’t stop players from flocking to online casinos, but it will give brick-and-mortar locations a greater share of the spoils.

It also helps with the general shift toward a cashless society. Without it, these machines could become obsolete.

The government also clearly believes that these changes can be made without worsening the country’s problem with gambling addiction, one that is thought to cost the country millions of pounds, leading to great emotional and social stress in the process.

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