Blanket ban

In an effort to curb both rising credit card debt and problem gambling, Pennsylvania State Senator Wayne Fontana has said he plans to introduce a bill which would prohibit the use of credit cards on online gambling sites.

“Online gaming and sports betting is growing exponentially, especially with young adults,” Sen. Fontana said in a brief statement on his website on Friday. “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.”

Fontana specifically listed online casino games, internet lottery, sports betting, and fantasy sports as falling under the bill’s umbrella. He made no mention of online poker, but nothing he said, either on his website or in the Senate Co-Sponsorship Memorandum, would make one thing that poker wouldn’t be included, as well.

Pennsylvania is one of the few states with legal online poker, though it has yet to join the Multi-State Internet Gaming Agreement (MSIGA) to allow it to combine player pools with five other states: Nevada, Michigan, Delaware, West Virginia, and New Jersey (West Virginia does not have any online poker rooms, even though they are permitted). As Earl Burton reported over the weekend, some lawmakers are pushing to change that, as a bill has been introduced that would allow the Pennsylvania Gaming Control Board to work out a deal with the MSIGA member states and join the group.

Credit card debt, problem gambling entangled

On top of his concern about credit card debt, Fontana also worries about problem gambling in his state.

“….over 36% of online gaming participants in the commonwealth reported at least one gambling problem according to the 2022 Online Gaming Report produced by Pennsylvania State University in coordination with the Pennsylvania Department of Drug and Alcohol Programs as well as the state’s Gaming Control Board,” he wrote in the Memorandum.

Credit card usage on gambling sites, Fontana believes, fuels both issues, which is a reasonable viewpoint. People who deposit funds onto sites with credit cards are obviously increasing their debt and not everyone who does so will be in a position to pay off their bills. To Fontana, it’s an unnecessary avenue for credit card spending.

And those with addiction issues have an easier time depositing and re-depositing if they can use a credit card, rather than a financial vehicle that requires the money to be available before it can be used. Credit cards allow people to spend money they do not have and spend it quickly.

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