Gambling block

Now gambling sites can’t accept credit cards directly, they’re promoting pay by phone to get round the new rules.

Pay by SMS is generally a bad idea in my opinion, but for gambling it’s utterly insane.

There’s lots of chat about gambling blocks for cards - what about for mobile?

A range of blocks would be very handy for kids and teens! I’d love to see a full set of parental controls within the app, though that might be a lot of work…


Is that a general thing now, or are we talking about opt-in blocks that some banks offer?

Yes, it was brought in by the gambling commission. Bookies can’t accept credit cards any more. There are also proposals now to block all forms of credit being used for gambling, including overdrafts, loans etc, but I’ve no idea how that would work.

I still think a crypto currency that you could only buy up to a percentage of your average earnings over previous three years and subject to a credit check would be a better way to get gambling addiction under control.

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I didn’t know this was a thing, how does one pay for something by SMS?

Moneybox has covered this in detail

Money Box: Self-employed grant extended [00:09:24]

Usually some text code. Used to be more common.

As premium and short code text messages are not allowed on Zevvle for to the fraud risk, unlikely to be an issue and likely already blocked.


Pay by SMS should die regardless of gambling. It’s the #1 vector for all kinds of scams and shady services, and even when legitimate it’s a very poor user experience. On the merchant side the payout is very low, you’re losing a lot of the money in fees to the various middlemen (which is why the mobile industry keeps supporting this feature despite it being abused).


To me, this seems at odds. If you’re on a Post-pay contract, then anything chargeable to your account is technically credit is it not? Surely you can get yourself equally in the :poop: by charging a crazy amount to your phone account and struggling to find the money later. Alternatively, if you’re on Post-pay, you can just top-up your phone with your credit card and get around any gambling blocks you might have on your bank account/credit card!

Seems completely backwards to me!


To be fair the gambling block is just a tiny bit of friction added to the process, it’s not designed (and can’t be) bulletproof. After all you can just give your friend some cash (from a credit card) and use their card to top-up your gambling account or go to the bookies.

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There’s definitely a reckoning overdue with “credit”.

Allowing funds to seep from loans and overdrafts into highly risky bets, crypto etc is l problematic, to say the least.

I think the circle could be squared by allowing credit for specific purposes only, but society as a whole is nowhere close to thinking of it in that way

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Several years ago I was unwittingly signed up to a premium SMS service (charged for each received) by a dodgy Android app that sent the signup text on my behalf. I was amazed at how poorly my mobile network responded when I asked them to block the texts. I’m not sure how it works behind the scenes but if I was paying the network on a regular monthly contract and they are allowing someone else to bill my account, I didn’t understand how they couldn’t tell me who that was or a put a stop to it? A credit card company would have a lot more regulations on such charges.

I still recall the conversation with the customer service agent who gave me his frank opinion that network intervention on such charges would amount to us living in a “nanny state” - which he personally disagreed with - and that I should resolve the matter with the unknown party myself. :confused:


That’s awful. Did it get resolved in the end?

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It’s hard to make someone understand when their paycheck depends on not understanding it. Little is being done around phone scams in general because the parties that would be able to stop them are also the ones profiting off them.

I bought out my contract - luckily I had only a few months remaining but I did have to swallow the cost of that - and switched to a popular PAYG provider who use bundles. Not having a credit contract and keeping no balance besides the bundle meant at least I couldn’t be billed for them. I can’t recall whether that put a stop to them in itself or there was something else I did, but the first step was getting off that contract.


This is both apalling, and mildly terrifying. :cold_sweat:

If this happened with a card charge (even debit!), your bank would be obligated to block it on the spot (Recurring Payment Cancellation Service for Mastercard), and it’d be a trivial dispute to win to get your money back.

Is this just, not regulated at all for mobile payments? What on earth would even be a legitimate use of a SMS that charges the recipient?!


It used to be popular with charity campaigns, particularly televised fundraisers. Not sure if that’s true any more - don’t watch TV :joy:

True story, this bit is what I’ve been working on for the past six months or so. :slightly_smiling_face:

I may be wrong, but this seems to have unfortunately fallen between the cracks between Ofcom and the Financial Conduct Authority. In my opinion, all forms of carrier billing should be regulated by the FCA as a financial transaction but ultimately, Ofcom seems to control phone bills? Very messy either way.

Charities use them all the time for donations! That’s the main use of them in the UK nowadays, but they can also be used for carrier billing of digital content. Back in the day, this meant ringtones and wallpapers. They can also be used for pay to enter competitions and such.

Carrier billing in general (outside of paid SMSes themsevles) can be used with Google Play and the Apple App Store in limited situations, and in some countries that is pratically the only way of paying for things from these providers. Some online games (thinking League of Legends) also support phone carrier billing in certain countries.


Or in my case £10 for Tetris for my beloved Motorola flip phone. I make better decisions these days…


There’s probably some regulation somewhere and if you’re a lawyer with good knowledge of these regulations and a ton of time you might be able to get your money back after enough letters back and forth.

The main problem is that 1) there is no good UI to figure out what the payments are for and cancel them (because yes they can be recurring, usually weekly, and that is of course only mentioned in the fine print), 2) telecoms customer service is often terrible so you have to argue with a monkey and 3) nobody holds them accountable because most people will just pay the bill anyway due to fearing a hit on their credit report, so no incentive to change anything.

It’s just a few bucks here and there so most people don’t bother kicking up a fuss but overall no value has been created, some middlemen got rich and the annoyed customer is left holding the bag.

These services could’ve been legitimate but it’s too little and too late because card payments are now ubiquitous and basically their lunch. I think it would’ve taken off as a mainstream micropayment system if early on there was good UI and tooling build around it with a proper dispute process and vetting to prevent shady merchants.

At least it wasn’t recurring weekly. Back in the day in France these services pretty much always recurred and billed you around 4 bucks a week. If you are really into ringtones and wallpapers it might’ve been a good deal because I guess the recurring part gave you unlimited access (besides data/WAP charges obviously) but most people didn’t know nor need it and end up paying several renewals of the service until their next bill arrived despite only using the service once.