Could Credit Cards Be Banned When Buying UK Lottery Tickets?

National Lottery Sign

Credit: Icenando / bigstock

Now that the legal kerfuffle between Allwyn, the new proprietor of the National Lottery, and its predecessor Camelot has come to an end, the timeline for the new dawn for lotto draws in the UK can begin to take shape.

Camelot had put up all sorts of obstacles to prevent Allwyn taking the reins of the various draws, after the UK Gambling Commission recommended that the incumbent – who had enjoyed a near 30-year monopoly on running the lottery – should be relieved of their duties.

Eventually settled out of court, Allwyn took the ultimate step of silencing Camelot by simply taking them over late in 2022.

Allwyn will officially take over the National Lottery from February 2024, and the new licensee is expected to make some significant changes to how we go about buying tickets – and how the lotto is advertised to us – at that time.

It has been hinted that they will slice the cost of tickets in half back to the old £1 mark, with two jackpot draws potentially scheduled for Saturday evenings. Karel Komarek, Allwyn chief, has also promised to greatly increase the amount given to charitable causes from lottery revenue.

There is also likely to be pressure on Allwyn to ban players from buying tickets using their credit cards. UK punters have been banned from topping up their sports betting or online casino accounts using their plastic, and many believe that the UK regulator should add the lottery to that list as well.

They haven’t, thus far, so it’s possible the onus may fall upon Allwyn themselves to take the bull by the horns.

Taking No Credit

Credit Card Ban

It was back in 2020 that the Gambling Commission banned credit card gambling in the UK.

The regulator wanted to ward off the risk of punters betting with money that, in some cases, they effectively didn’t have, and imposed a blanket ban on operators accepting credit cards as a payment method.

Well, almost ‘blanket’ anyway. The ruling, in the regulator’s published legislation, confirmed the ban ‘….will apply to all online and offline gambling products, with the exception of non-remote lotteries.’

And so lottery players can still head online or to their local shop and buy lottery ticket(s) on credit, which remains something of a headscratcher. Is playing the lottery gambling or not?

Apparently not, according to the Commission, who found that lottery players are generally immune to some of the problem gambling triggers associated with those that have a flutter on the football or a wager at the roulette wheel.

There was plenty of opposition to that oversight, however, and in 2022 the House of Commons Committee published a report into how it felt Allwyn should take the lottery forward based upon their own independent research.

Unsurprisingly, that publication took the Commission to task on some of their reasoning for not banning the use of credit cards when buying lottery tickets – including the ‘unfair expectation’, according to the regulator, on retailers to prevent such payments when the individual is buying a lottery ticket and shopping for other goods at the same time.

When asked how many items a shopper must have before their purchase of a lottery ticket on credit would be allowed, the former gambling minister Chris Philp flippantly replied: “I honestly do not know what the rules are about whether one Mars bar is enough or whether you need to buy a loo roll and some Toilet Duck as well.”

Some would suggest that’s hokum, and the House of Commons Committee certainly agrees, describing the ruling as ‘ill thought-through’. “We recommend that this loophole, which allows consumers to continue to gamble using credit cards, should be closed as soon as practicable, following discussions with retailers,” the report reads.

Cracking Down

According to research, 60% of problem gamblers regularly play the National Lottery – that makes it the most popular ‘product’ for addicts to bet on.

It’s little wonder that many different groups are calling for a ban on buying lottery tickets with credit cards, with Tory MP Laurence Robertson quoted as saying: “There should be consistent treatment, not special treatment for the National Lottery. I know money is put to good causes, but it is still money that is lost from being staked.”

Allwyn effectively have a blank slate to change how the lottery is run prior to rolling out their makeover next year. If the UK’s own gambling regulator won’t take the sensible step of banning all forms of credit card gambling, maybe the licensee themselves needs to step up to the plate.