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UK Gamblers Face Restrictions at Online Casinos by Credit Card Companies

 In a new move by Britain’s banking industry, credit card consumers who wager at online casinos and participate in Internet gambling and betting will be forced to pay higher credit card charges and interest rates. Is this discrimination against those bettors who choose to frequent online casinos? Does entertainment at online casinos deserve this new added cost? Britain’s banking industry will be penalizing the growing number of gamblers and frequenters to online casinos in the country due to the new measures.

The Royal Bank of Scotland (RBS), for example, has made major changes in their policies regarding betting at online gambling sites and what they define as “gambling transactions.” The RBS has 11 million credit card customers. Egg, which boasts more than 3 million credit card customers, is also redefining its policies concerning gambling at online casinos. The RBS and Egg’s new policies concerning online casinos will mean that anyone who uses their credit card to gamble at online casinos will be charged a higher interest rate on their card, and in select cases a fee.

At land-based casinos, it is not possible to use credit cards to gamble, but paying for food and drinks at casinos may now also come with higher built-in charges. Citibank, the leader in banking in the United States has already banned its one million British customers from gambling at online casinos with their credit cards. In 2005, £53 billion was spent on gambling, including the country’s National Lottery and about one million British citizens regularly gambled at online casinos. There are currently about 1,700 Internet gambling websites.

Recently, a spokeswoman for Mint, which is affiliated with the RBS banking group, said, “The step that has been taken by RBS is part of a move taking place across the credit card industry to examine the type of transactions people are making on their accounts. The gambling transactions are to be treated as ‘advances’, as this is felt to be a more accurate means of reflecting that a gambling transaction is effectively a cash equivalent exchange.” Currently, many credit card companies note gambling transactions at online casinos as “purchases.” Because of that, customers pay a lower interest rate and no extra fees are required or forced. With RBS’ new policy concerning online casinos and its credit cards, customers gambling with their Mint card will be charged 17.9% rather than 14.9%. The rule goes into affect on May 1.

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