Banking app Revolut has said it will prevent credit cards from being used at gambling sites in Ireland. The company took the decision following an investigation by the Irish Independent.
The newspaper revealed that, despite Irish gambling laws which prohibit the direct use of credit cards, some betting firms were using contactless apps — like Google Pay, Apple Pay, and Revolut — to circumvent restrictions.
Revolut has developed technology that can recognize when payments have come specifically from credit cards and prevent them from being used at gambling sites.
The company uses this technology in the UK — where similar laws apply — to differentiate between credit cards and debit cards when they are used for gambling online. It intends to roll the system out to its 1.5 million users in Ireland — roughly 30% of the population.
A spokesperson said, “Revolut is planning to block the use of credit card funds on gambling sites in Ireland, in the same way, that we do in the UK. This is in addition to the 48-hour gambling block that all users can currently activate themselves.”
Revolut Closing the Loophole
Many betting firms in Ireland see the third-party apps as a legal loophole, pointing out that they currently have no way of telling which payments come from debit cards, and which from credit cards.
Ireland’s Safer Gambling Code is voluntary, and managed by the Irish Bookmakers Association (IBA). Its opinion — perhaps, unsurprisingly — is that no laws are technically being broken.
The Irish government has plans to create a gambling regulator, but cannot, at present, do anything regarding credit card payments. A spokesperson for Junior Justice Minister James Browne — who is in charge of the plans — told the Irish Independent it was “outside the remit of the minister”.
He added that a future regulator would have “discretion to prohibit the use of credit cards where it is of the opinion that the use of that form of payment contributes to problematic gambling and behaviors”.
However, he told the paper that responsibility for the current situation falls on the IBA.
Credit Card Gambling a Major Problem.
Official assessments put the number of problem gamblers in Ireland between 30,000 and 40,000 – but some believe this is an underestimate. CEO and founder of Problem Gambling Ireland, Barry Grant, thinks that the figure is much bigger than that.
“It’s possibly up to three times that figure,” says Grant. “Credit card betting is a massive issue.”
With the government and the IBA currently passing the buck to each other, Revolut should take some credit for being proactive about the matter. However, betting firms are worried about how the move will affect them.
A spokesperson for Paddy Power said that it did not know how much Revolut’s decision would cost them — precisely because it is not yet known how many payments come from credit cards.
Online betting makes up a substantial chunk of Paddy Power’s business. A recent report put the figure at 39%, with almost half of the transactions coming from phones. That number is likely to increase as gambling firms focus on developing their apps.