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Pennsylvania Lawmaker Pushes Bill to Ban Use of Credit Cards for Online Gambling

PENN LIVE (May 13, 2024) Making a sports bet or playing an online casino game, like any wagering, comes with a risk even more so if you use a credit card.

A credit card can make it easier to overspend, creating the risk of debt accumulation. And sharing a player’s financial information with a casino can make them a potential target for hackers.

Sen. Wayne Fontana, D-Allegheny County, wants to help Pennsylvanians avoid that trouble. He has introduced legislation that would prohibit the use of credit cards for online casino games, sports betting and fantasy games, as well as iLottery. Currently, Iowa, Tennessee and Massachusetts are states that prohibit the use of credit cards for online gaming and sports betting.

“Online gaming and sports betting is growing exponentially, especially with young adults,” Fontana said in a statement. “At the same time, credit card debt is climbing. So we need to make sure the greater access to gambling isn’t leading to burdensome or crippling credit card balances.”

According to the state’s Independent Fiscal Office, the average Pennsylvanian has a credit card balance of $5,640, which is 12% higher than pre-pandemic levels.

The Pennsylvania Lottery helps to keep a check on credit card use by limiting the maximum deposit to $1,000 in a 24-hour period. According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board spokesman Doug Harbach, the state’s gaming law allows credit cards as one option that players can use to make deposits into an online account. While deposit limits are not in the law, he said operators have their own limits and they vary but most have deposit limits of $5,000 a day.

Having protections in place like the one Fontana is seeking would be a great help to prevent a gambling disorder, said Josh Ercole, executive director of the Council on Compulsive Gambling of Pennsylvania.

“It’s always a concern when people have the ability to gamble beyond their means,” Ercole said. “Sometimes, that’s obviously not to say that having a cash requirement is going to avoid the development of a problem but certainly once credit can be applied that does extenuate the potential for an issue.”

According to the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board’s March revenue report, gaming revenue from iGaming, sports wagering and fantasy contests totaled more than $237.7 million that month compared with $200.2 million last March. It reported that iGaming was the main driver of its record monthly high of $554.6 million, comprising just shy of 29% of that revenue. Revenue from gaming helps to fund property tax relief.

According to Penn State’s 2023 Online Gaming Report, online gambling participation increased to 16% in 2023 after holding steady at 11% in 2021 and 2022. Additionally, Pennsylvania’s online gambling revenue in 2023 was more than $2.1 billion, which represents a nearly 27% increase over the preceding year. According to the report, its popularity places the state among the top three online gambling revenue-generators in the nation. It also found that nearly half of Pennsylvania’s online gamblers reported problems with gambling.

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