The Gambling Commission is considering banning people from using their credit cards to place bets.
The regulator’s report on how to make online gambling safer said concerns had been raised that using credit cards increased the risk that consumers would gamble more than they could afford.
The report said: “We support the principle that consumers should not gamble with money that they do not have and plan to conduct further work on gambling using credit in order to develop a more comprehensive understanding of associated risks.”
The commission said it will explore if such a move would steer gamblers towards using payday loans before taking action.
The use of credit cards on gambling websites is treated as a cash advance, meaning it is subject to a transaction fee and a high rate of interest.
The report says it is “hard to envisage why consumers would choose to pay in that way, unless it was to gamble with money not otherwise available to them”.
Other proposed changes include banning operators from providing free-to-play demo games until a consumer’s age has been determined, improving the speed and effectiveness of age verification processes, ensuring operators set limits on consumers’ spending until affordability checks have been conducted, and strengthening requirements to interact with consumers who may be problem gamblers.
Statistics show that industry profits from the sector have grown 10% to £4.7 billion in the last year, and public participation has increased from 15.5% in 2014 to 18.3% in 2017.
It is estimated that nine million people across Britain gamble online.
Gambling Commission chief executive Neil McArthur said: “Britain has the largest regulated online gambling market in the world and we are continually looking for ways to make it even fairer and safer for consumers.
“The proposals we have announced today are intended to protect children better, reduce the risks to vulnerable consumers and build on the measures we already impose on operators to know their customers and intervene at an earlier stage before consumers experience harm.”
Minister for sport Tracey Crouch said: “We are committed to ensuring the gambling industry is safe and sustainable. These proposals for additional regulations will strengthen the controls already in place and further safeguard children and vulnerable people from the risks of online gambling.”