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Tom Watson: Labour would ban gambling with credit cards Deputy leader says crackdown on betting industry necessary to tackle addiction epidemic A ban on placing bets with a credit card would be a major blow for the betting industry.Photograph: Daniel Hambury/PA Labour would ban the use of credit cards to place bets , affecting billions of pounds of transactions a year, as part of a crackdown on the gambling industry designed to tackle an epidemic of addiction. Deputy leader Tom Watson will this week publish the conclusions of the partys year-long review of gambling regulations, which were liberalised under Tony Blairs government in 2007. The full list of proposals will not be revealed until Thursday, but they include a blanket ban on the use of credit cards to bet, a practice that campaigners have said risks miring gamblers in ever greater debt . Companies in the online gambling sector have indicated that 10%-20% of their 43bn in annual deposits, or up to 8.6bn, are made using credit cards, according to a report by industry regulator the Gambling Commission earlier this year. It did not publish estimates for high street bookmakers and casinos.
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Earlier this year, the Committee of Advertising Practice and the Broadcast Committee of Advertising Practice announced tougher standards on gambling advertising, including banning ads urging sports fans to "bet now" during events. Mr Watson told the BBC's Today programme: "We're not anti-gambling. We just think we need to tighten up regulations because there has been a digital revolution in these new products since the last piece of legislation. "Even the industry are saying that TV advertising for in-sport betting is getting out of hand and needs dealing with." The proposed levy would amount to 1% of operators' gross gambling yield. At present, there is a voluntary levy which Mr Watson said brought in about 10m a year. He said a compulsory charge would yield about 140m a year "which would allow us to treat more gambling addicts when they require help with their condition". "Gambling companies have to take more responsibility for harm caused by their products and contribute more to research and treatment." Labour also said it would bring in new guidelines and resources to help problem gamblers. For example, it wants new rules that would enable gambling addicts to tell their bank to block online gambling transactions. Sky Bet boss Richard Flint welcomed the idea of a levy, but said banning advertising and credit card payments would not work.
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