Guidance for society lotteries and ELMs – The credit card ban and GAMSTOP

The Gambling Commission has today published guidance for society lotteries and ELMs on the credit card ban and GAMSTOP, that can be downloaded below. You can read more about:

  • the credit card ban for all forms of remote gambling and for non-remote betting with effect from 14 April 2020 here and
  • the requirement to participate in the multi-operator self-exclusion scheme GAMSTOP with effect from 31 March 2020 here.

The new society lotteries and ELM guidance is also set out in full below. It follows queries from society lotteries on how the above changes will impact them, but its content will also be of interest to remote gambling operators in other sectors who receive recurring subscription payments by credit card from customers.

Guidance for society lotteries and ELMs on the credit card ban and GAMSTOP

The Commission recently announced that it will ban gambling with credit cards for all forms of remote gambling and for non-remote betting and that online operators will be required to participate in GAMSTOP, the multi-operator self-exclusion scheme from 31 March.

The Commission has since received a number of queries from society lotteries on how these announcements will impact them. We have therefore provided some guidance below to assist.

Credit cards

The ban on accepting payment by credit card for lottery participation will apply to:

  • all remote society lottery licences
  • remote ancillary lottery licences, and
  • remote ELM licences 

In practice, this means that lottery operators with one of these licences will no longer be able to accept payment by credit card by remote methods. These include, for example:

  • online payments (e.g. by website or an app)
  • payment over the telephone
  • payment by email
  • payment by text message
  • payment sent by fax

The ban will take effect on 14 April.

It will apply to credit card payments from both new and existing customers paying by remote means for either subscriptions or individual entries.

For subscriptions, this applies if you:

  • take recurring subscription payments by credit card (e.g. weekly, monthly or annual credit card payments),
  • those payments are taken automatically without the customer having to input their credit card details each time, and
  • the customer’s original payment was made by remote means.

Where this is the case, you need to ensure that subscription credit card payments are no longer taken from 14 April onward. Those customers will need to pay by alternative means if they wish to continue to take part in your lotteries.

You can accept credit card payments by remote means until 14 April. This includes where payment is made to take part in a lottery draw that takes place after this date. No further credit card payments can be accepted from the 14 April.

Non-remote society lottery and non-remote ELM licences will however not be subject to the ban.

What this means is that holders of non-remote lottery licences can continue to accept payment by credit card by non-remote methods, including for example:

  • where payment is taken face-to-face (e.g. on retail premises or door-to-door)
  • where payment is sent by post (e.g. card details are sent to the operator in the post).

How operators might be able to comply with the ban

We understand that one means of preventing credit card payments is for operators – or their payment processors or acquiring bank – to identify credit cards via the card’s Issuer Identification Number (the IIN, which is the first 6 to 9 digits of the number across the front of a card and which allows the merchant or acquirer to identity whether a card is credit, debit or prepaid, and to identify the issuing bank). The payment processor or acquirer, on the operator’s (merchant’s) request, could then ensure that any card identified as a credit card is prevented from moving through the payment gateway.

Some operators may be able to put this system into effect at their end of the payment gateway without the need to ask their processor/acquirer. However, where this is not the case, we would suggest that operators contact their payment processor or their acquiring bank to understand how they could prevent credit card payments. 


The ban will also apply to credit card payments made through e-wallets such as PayPal, for example. We understand that the major wallet providers will be able to put measures into effect to prevent credit card payments for gambling.

However, operators will be responsible for only accepting payments through an e-wallet where the operator is satisfied that the e-wallet provider will prevent gambling payments by credit card from 14 April.

We suggest that societies and ELMs also contact any e-wallet providers whose wallets they make available to their customers as a payment option, to ensure they understand how the wallet provider intends to proceed.

Further details on the credit card ban are available in our consultation responses document


The only lottery operators that need to participate in GAMSTOP are those who offer online Instant Win Games (and then only in relation to those games)

Online instant win games (IWGs) are games that are offered through a website where it is a requirement for the customer to have an account with the operator to play.  Customers play these games online, with results confirmed instantly, and there is no physical scratchcard sent to the customer. 

In contrast, scratchcard games are physical tickets and can be purchased from a retailer, charity etc. either remotely (over the telephone or via an online shop, where the tickets are then mailed out to the player) or in person. 

It is only operators that are offering online IWGs that need to participate in GAMSTOP.  The sale of physical tickets via remote means is not included in the code provision for online multi-operator self-exclusion.

Any lottery operator that is considering offering online IWGs should contact GAMSTOP ([email protected]) for advice and support about what they would need to do to integrate before they started to offer online IWGs.