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After holding a consultation, the Gambling Commission has decided to ban gambling operators accepting payment with credit cards, starting on April 14th. At the same time it has announced that all online operators must, by 31st March, have signed up to GAMSTOP which makes it possible for anyone to request self-exclusion from all licensed online gambling providers at the same time.

 

These are overdue and very welcome changes. But their real significance can easily be missed. Since the 2005 Gambling Act we have been mentally conditioned to accept the Establishment discourse about gambling’s enlarged place in society. The key message has been that the gambling business is no different from any other and should be seen as a mostly enjoyable and beneficial entertainment.

 

Gambling is now clearly no ordinary commodity. Requiring operators to provide customers with the opportunity for self-exclusion, and banning the use of credit cards, are clear admissions of how extraordinarily dangerous this ‘product’ really is. What is needed now is a fundamental rethinking of our basic approach to gambling regulation, and a comprehensive new Gambling Act replacing the ordinary business ideology with an alternative public health perspective.

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