A politician from Northern Ireland has called for the region to fall in line with the rest of the UK and ban the use of credit cards for online betting.

Kellie Armstrong, an MLA from the Alliance Party, who speaks on community issues, has said that credit card gambling is particularly dangerous as it enables people to gamble with money they don’t have. She was speaking a day after new rules regarding credit card gambling came into effect in the rest of the UK.

The rules were introduced by the UK Gambling Commission (UKGC) following a period of consultation last year. Originally announced at the end of 2019, they came into effect on April 14. The rules ban all gambling companies from accepting credit card payments. They also restrict e-wallet payments that use credit cards as the original source.

With the exception of purchasing scratch cards and National Lottery tickets from physical venues, customers in England, Wales and Scotland are now restricted to using debit cards or cash physically deposited into an account in order to gamble.

But the rules will not apply in Northern Ireland. Unlike the rest of the UK, where gambling is regulated under the Gambling Act 2005, gambling in Northern Ireland is governed by a much older legislative instrument, the 1985 Betting Gaming Lotteries and Amusements (NI) Order. Politicians and stakeholders in Northern Ireland have called for the updating of this legislation.

Armstrong emphasised that during the ongoing pandemic lockdown, online gambling has become more popular than ever, leading to more people using gambling sites, which required a legislative response to protect individuals at risk:

“We now need a similar law for Northern Ireland. Understandably, most resources are targeted towards combating Covid-19, however, we need to tackle the problem of addiction and helping gamblers stay safe.”

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