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PA Senator Proposes Ban on Credit Card Transactions for Online Casinos

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Branimir Ivanov | Senior News Contributor

Updated: May 1, 2024

the Case for banning

Pennsylvania Senator Wayne Fontana has taken a significant step in addressing concerns regarding online gambling by introducing a bill aimed at banning credit card transactions for online casinos. Fontana's move, following through on a promise made in March, is driven by his desire to prevent the potentially damaging consequences of online gambling, particularly in regard to mounting credit card debt.

Fontana's proposed legislation, Senate Bill 1159, seeks to amend current state law, which currently permits credit card transactions for various online gambling activities including fantasy sports, iLottery, sports betting, and online casino accounts. The bill explicitly states that no licensed operator may accept credit card payments for these purposes, effectively cutting off this payment option across the board.

 

The bill's language is clear:

  • “No licensed operator may accept a credit card as a form of payment to fund a fantasy contest account.”
  • “The (Lottery) department may not accept a credit card as a form of payment for the purchase of iLottery games.”
  • “A sports wagering certificate holder may not accept a credit card as a form of payment for sports wagering.”
  • “An interactive gaming certificate holder may not accept a credit card as a form of payment for deposit or wager.”

Should the Pennsylvania legislature approve the bill and Governor Josh Shapiro sign it into law, the credit card ban would take effect 60 days thereafter.

While Fontana's bill may not heavily impact fantasy sports contests, which attract relatively little action, it could significantly affect sports betting operators, the Pennsylvania Lottery, and the state's 10 licensed online casinos.

Fontana's motivation behind the bill stems from his concerns over credit card debt and problem gambling. In an email interview with PlayUSA, Fontana outlined his reasons for the bill and its potential effects on online gaming operators.

Fontana emphasized his belief that the bill would help alleviate the potential crisis arising from the intersection of debt and addiction, stating:

“Since the expansion of online gaming and sports wagering in Pennsylvania nearly seven years ago, there is greater access to gambling which in turn increases the number of individuals who may develop a gambling disorder. At the same time, gambling and credit card debt often go hand in hand. The ease and convenience of being able to gamble from the comforts of your home any time or day can create the perfect storm.”

Highlighting that the average credit card customer in Pennsylvania carries $5,640 in debt, Fontana stressed the importance of enjoying online gaming responsibly, without risking overwhelming credit card balances.

Fontana's claims are supported by a 2020 study from the Gambling Research Exchange Ontario, which found that using credit cards for gambling poses numerous risk factors, including increased debt, strained relationships, and negative impacts on mental health.

However, the study also suggests that banning credit cards could lead to unintended consequences, such as players seeking alternative payment methods that could undermine the intended purpose of the ban.

 

“Crippling credit card debt and problem gambling often go hand in hand. Online gaming should be enjoyed responsibly and not at the expense of taking on overwhelming financial burdens.”

 

The Future

Addressing concerns from operators, Fontana argued that potential reductions in player deposits from banning credit cards wouldn't significantly harm gaming operators, given the industry's substantial revenue. He noted that the Pennsylvania gaming industry achieved a record revenue of nearly $5.7 billion in the previous year and continues to generate significant profits.

Fontana emphasized the responsibility of casinos to discourage excessive gambling and make it harder for those with gambling addictions to access their services.

 

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