Are British Banks Exploiting Gambling Addicts For Profit?

When will British banks ever learn! Now they seem to be targeting vulnerable people who have a gambling addiction; people who are probably trying to find ways how to stop gambling.

Gambling addicts are people that need help and support with their gambling addiction (or maybe in the early stages their gambling compulsion) rather than being financially penalised by profit-seeking UK banking institutions.

After all the bad press the various UK banks have received over the past few years you would have thought they would have learned a few useful lessons about how to behave in a customer focused and socially responsible way.

Sadly, that doesn’t seem to be the case especially when it comes to the people struggling with gambling addiction.
In a moment I’ll tell you why I say all this and show you the clear evidence from at least one major UK bank that seems to prove it.

The Problem
But first, I’m guessing you can’t help but have seen all the advertising on television for gambling in all its various guises. But it’s not just on TV (that’s only one of many media channels); online gambling advertising is also a powerful influence and may be contributing to gambling addiction.

Here are just a few of the more popular forms of gambling being advertised on TV and elsewhere, such as social media for online gambling companies, and which might be contributing to gambling addiction:

  • Online poker
  • Virtual slot machines
  • Online casinos
  • Football betting (those adverts that keep popping up during a game encouraging you to bet really irritate)
  • Lotteries (and spin-offs like scratch cards)

As well as every other type of betting and gambling opportunity that the publicity companies can conjure up to seduce and exploit you on behalf of their profit-hungry gambling industry clients.

The problem for vulnerable people with a gambling addiction (especially young gamblers who may be easy to influence) is that all this TV and online gambling publicity is very effective and ‘in your face’.

Even as you relax watching TV in the comfort of your own home or use your mobile devices to engage with social media like Facebook and YouTube you are bombarded with advertising.

Of course, if the TV and online commercials promoting gambling weren’t so highly successful in getting people to gamble (and maybe spend money they can’t afford) the various casinos and gambling establishments wouldn’t be spending truckloads of money on it.

The success of all this publicity for gambling and betting can clearly be seen in the statistics from the third British Gambling Prevalence Survey (2010) which states:

“Around 73% of adults in Britain gamble at least once a year”
(This survey is available at the Gamble Aware UK website).

Also, excluding those who only gamble on the National Lottery, the same survey states 56% of adults participated in some other form of gambling in the past year.

Now the report says these statistics relate to a sample size of 7,756 adults (aged 16 and over). But interestingly, the age of majority and age of consent under UK law is still 18 years of age so I’m not sure how many of the 7,756 ‘adult’ participants in this study were really still legally minors and not legal adults.

This could indicate that there may be a growing social problem amongst young people in the UK who are being exposed to all the gambling advertising both on TV and on mobile devices with online gambling advertising popping up in all the various popular social media like Facebook and YouTube.

The Bank Response
Of course, when there’s all this lucrative profit to be made it’s not just the private gambling businesses that are cashing in.

There are other profit hungry organisations getting in on this profit-rich gambling feasting frenzy.

The UK Government for one has been taxing gambling for years and even has special taxation laws in place. As of 2014, the betting industry alone is reported to contribute over £2 billion in tax – that’s 0.4% of all Government tax revenue. Furthermore, the industry employs over 100,000 people.

Ah well, that’s Governments for you…

But now it seems we are seeing another even more shocking and worrying development and it’s no surprise that it comes from the already tarnished banking sector.

Some profit hungry British Banking Institutions have seen the opportunity created by this explosion in gambling advertising and the profit bonanza on offer and are rushing to cash in on your gambling addiction!


The evidence is emerging in those little sentences crammed into mind-boggling documents that hardly anyone bothers to read that we all know affectionately as the ‘Terms and Conditions’!

We all know that many companies, including the big insurance and banking institutions, just love to tuck things away in the little tables and boxes on those bland white pages of their T&C’s.

In particular, the very items of information they’d rather you didn’t really know about (but are obliged to disclose to customers) which general cost you money at some point and in some way.

And so it seems this now includes profiting from gambling activity and, yes, gambling addictions.

By making changes to their ‘credit card terms and conditions’ at least one British bank is now jumping on the gambling-profit bandwagon and looking to increase their already enormous profits by penalising gamblers financially for using their credit cards.

This will especially hit vulnerable gambling addicts (and consequently add to any suffering their families might be enduring) since these are the people likely to be gambling the most!

So be warned! If you use your credit card for ‘transactions’ related to gambling you will be charged a hefty commission by your credit card issuing bank for each and every gambling related ‘transaction’.

Now you might think making ludicrously high commissions on every ‘gambling related transaction’ a vulnerable gambling addict makes is bad enough but it gets worse still.

BTW, I’m guessing you aren’t fooled into thinking the financial wizards that run these banks haven’t thoroughly considered all of this before making those profit-enhancing changes to their credit card T&C’s?

The underhanded ways of some banks means that these ‘gambling related transactions’ charges don’t only apply to money from your card being used in actual gambling activities.

Oh no!? Believe it or not, the same high profit generating commission charges are to apply even when you want to use your credit card just to pay for eating or drinking in a restaurant or bar if it is in what the bank decides is a ‘gambling establishment’.

So it would appear you don’t even have to be gambling to be penalised! The banks will happily sting you just for having lunch in your local casino restaurant if you pay the food bill with your credit card because you are in what the bank knows is a ‘gambling establishment’.

I know this is all incredible and outrageous so let me now show you the evidence…

Here’s what my own major UK Bank (is that a horse galloping past?) that issues my MasterCard has to say in their recently published 20 page ‘Credit Card Terms and Conditions Part B’ booklet that as usual is crammed with blocks of small text and was sent out to customers just this month.

On page 4, Section B2.2 Transactions and how to make them, it states:

Transaction Type: Gambling transactions
What is it?: Using your card to make transactions such as those at casinos, betting outlets and bookmakers, and buying online lottery tickets or gaming chips, share trading or spread betting.
How do you make it? Using your card and security details.
Other important information: We charge interest from the date of the transaction. We charge a cash transaction fee. We may treat any transaction at a gambling establishment (e.g. casino) as a gambling transaction, including buying food and drink.

So there you have it exactly as it is worded in my Bank’s credit card T&C’s. You will be charged twice, interest AND a fee, and it applies to food and drink (which last time I checked isn’t gambling).

Now just so you don’t think I’m crazy, in the ‘Guide to Changes’ sheet that accompanied the booklet we see this…

In the section labelled ‘Transactions’: Gambling transactions

We have added detail to make it clearer what is treated as a gambling transaction, for instance transactions made at institutions such as casinos, betting outlets, share trading, National Lottery tickets etc. This will attract a 3% (minimum £3) cash transaction fee that will apply to all gambling transactions entered to your statement from the 24th June 2016.

So there you have it in black and white direct from the horse’s mouth so to speak.

The only conclusion I can make from these changes is that at least one major UK bank is seizing the opportunity to make substantial extra profit specifically from gamblers and of course this will include those people addicted to gambling who use their credit cards to fund their gambling addiction.

And be very clear, even if that wasn’t bad enough these high-commission ‘transactions’ don’t even have to be for gambling; just buying food and drinks at a gambling establishment’s bar or restaurant will get you penalised with that 3% (minimum £3) fee.

Looks like the price of a couple of vodkas just went up again!

So, the much touted phrase “gamble responsibly” now needs to include “and be careful where you eat lunch or take your morning coffee because your bank will charge you to eat if you use your credit card to pay”.

Please leave a comment…
What do you think about the bank credit card terms and conditions discussed in this article? Please leave me a comment below and remember to share this so all credit card users who gamble can be on their guard!

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