Gambling Commission publishes Guidance for society lotteries and External Lottery Managers on the credit card ban and GAMSTOP

The Commission recently announced that it will ban gambling with credit cards for all forms of remote gambling and for non-remote betting and that online operators will be required to participate in GAMSTOP, the multi-operator self-exclusion, from 31 March.

The Commission has now published guidance to assist society lotteries and ELMs:

Credit cards

The ban on accepting payment by credit card for lottery participation will apply to:

  • all remote society lottery licences;
  • remote ancillary lottery licences, and
  • remote ELM licences.

In practice, this means that lottery operators with one of these licences will no longer be able to accept payment by credit card by remote methods. These include, for example:

  • online payments (e.g. by website or an app);
  • payment over the telephone;
  • payment by email;
  • payment by text message; and
  • payment sent by fax;

The ban will take effect on 14 April 2020.

It will apply to credit card payments from both new and existing customers paying by remote means for either subscriptions or individual entries.

For subscriptions, this applies if you:

  • take recurring subscription payments by credit card (e.g. weekly, monthly or annual credit card payments);
  • those payments are taken automatically without the customer having to input their credit card details each time; and
  • the customer’s original payment was made by remote means.

Non-remote society lottery and non-remote ELM licences will not be subject to the ban.

This means that holders of non-remote lottery licences can continue to accept payment by credit card by non-remote methods, including for example:

  • where payment is taken face-to-face (e.g. on retail premises or door-to-door); and
  • where payment is sent by post (e.g. card details are sent to the operator in the post).

Complying with the ban

The Commission says that one means of preventing credit card payments is for operators or their payment processors or acquiring bank to identify credit cards via the card’s Issuer Identification Number (the IIN, which is the first six to nine digits of the number across the front of a card and which allows the merchant or acquirer to identity whether a card is credit, debit or prepaid, and to identify the issuing bank). The payment processor or acquirer, on the operator’s (merchant’s) request, could then ensure that any card identified as a credit card is prevented from moving through the payment gateway.

Some operators may be able to put this system into effect at their end of the payment gateway without the need to ask their processor/acquirer. However, where this is not the case, the Commission suggests that operators contact their payment processor or their acquiring bank to understand how they could prevent credit card payments.

E-wallets

The ban will also apply to credit card payments made through e-wallets such as PayPal. The Commission understands that the major wallet providers will be able to put measures into effect to prevent credit card payments for gambling.

However, operators will be responsible for only accepting payments through an e-wallet where the operator is satisfied that the e-wallet provider will prevent gambling payments by credit card from 14 April.

The Commission suggests that societies and ELMs also contact any e-wallet providers whose wallets they make available to their customers as a payment option, to ensure they understand how the wallet provider intends to proceed.

GAMSTOP

The only lottery operators that need to participate in GAMSTOP are those who offer online Instant Win Games (and then only in relation to those games). Online instant win games are games that are offered through a website where it is a requirement for the customer to have an account with the operator to play. Customers play these games online, the results are confirmed instantly, and no physical scratchcard is sent to the customer.

In contrast, scratchcard games are physical tickets and can be purchased from a retailer, charity etc. either remotely (over the telephone or via an online shop, where the tickets are then mailed out to the player) or in person.

Only operators that are offering online Instant Wing Games need to participate in GAMSTOP. The sale of physical tickets via remote means is not included in the code provision for online multi-operator self-exclusion. To read the guidance in full, click here.