UK Lifts Ban on Using Debit Cards on Slot Machines - Latest Global News

UK Lifts Ban on Using Debit Cards on Slot Machines

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The UK will lift a ban on the use of debit cards on slot machines in casinos, pubs and other venues in a bid to boost a physical gambling industry under pressure from online betting.

The Department for Culture, Media and Sport said it would propose allowing transactions of up to £100 per time and requiring account verification, such as the use of chip and PIN, to protect players. It would maintain a ban on the use of credit cards.

The measures were laid out on Thursday as part of an initiative to modernize decades-old gambling regulations.

Lifting the debit card ban would “strike an appropriate balance between the regulation applicable to modern payment methods, the benefits to the consumer and the protection of licensing objectives,” the ministry said.

The Gambling Commission will also consult on protective measures, such as setting a minimum time between transactions and triggering alerts to staff when limits are reached.

The commission had said after a survey in 2021 that cash was seen as “the best way to maintain control over gambling spending”.

By liberalizing slot machine rules, the government aims to create a level playing field between physical gambling locations and online betting.

The ban on digital payments was seen by the gaming industry as putting casinos at a disadvantage compared to online competitors where cashless payments are unhindered.

Stuart Andrew, the Minister for Sport, Gambling and Civil Society, said in a statement that while the current ban, which dates back to 2007, was intended to protect players, “some sectors, particularly slot machines in pubs, are seeing business disappear because Customers don’t have cash with them.

“We will help future-proof the industry by lifting this ban, subject to appropriate player protections being put in place,” he added.

Other measures to strengthen land-based venues include the ability for casinos to offer more machines and the ability to have a larger number of higher-stakes slot machines in arcades and bingo halls.

Casino operator Rank Group welcomed the lifting of the cash ban and the increase in the number of slot machines. Its shares rose 6 percent after the announcement. “We look forward to enhancing the customer offering at our venues,” said John O’Reilly, CEO.

Adam Rivers, managing director of Alvarez & Marsal, a consulting firm, said cashless payments in casinos is a “really positive step” that follows best practices in other jurisdictions and would respond to changing consumer demand.

Matt Zarb-Cousin, director of Clean Up Gambling, a campaign group, said allowing debit cards directly on slot machines would introduce “significant risks.”

He added that the government should have only allowed cashless payments via a digital smartphone wallet, which could have allowed for a cap on the size of bets.

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