|Two credit card companies in the UK, American Express and Citigroup have announced their decision to limit access to online gambling sites for users of their cards. The move to place the restriction on their cards is following an example that has been in practice in the US for the last couple of years, with Citigroup explaining they have only been awaiting the appropriate systems in order to do so in the UK.|
The main reasons given for the companies’ decision are concerns about potential fraud, as well as the risk of their customers running up significant debts. Needless to say the reaction from the UK online gambling industry has so far not been positive. One spokesperson said the decision “smacked of a nanny state”, adding that people should be free to spend their money how they choose.
It is unusual to have this decision made now in the UK, where recently the gambling industry as a whole has been enjoying news of legislative changes that will broaden the possible scope and growth for their industry. The secretary of State for Culture, media and Sport, Tessa Jowell, issued a statement last month explaining the government’s intention to change laws: 'We urgently need a Gambling Bill because new gambling technology is making a mockery of our outdated laws. Without reform, new forms of gambling like internet casinos and roulette machines in bookmakers will continue to go unregulated.' Despite this intention of the government, American Express and Citigroup, have now taken steps to regulate the online industry themselves, at least in terms of their own customers’ choices.