When it comes to responsible gambling there are tons of measures out there to help keep you safe and limit your spending. We have a whole series of responsible gambling guides that can help you make the right decisions, including how to keep track of time and how to limit spending. One option comes straight from your bank: gambling transaction blocks.
These controls can block any gambling transactions at the source, stopping you from being able to deposit and play at online casinos or even make bets at the bookies. These are particularly useful for those who struggle to limit their spending and time spent gambling. UK gambling charity GambleAware says these bank blockers need to be standardised to help vulnerable people to gamble responsibly.
Different banking groups have differing options available and it can be difficult to know exactly what is available to you, so we have created this rundown of all the UK's top banks and each of their gambling block options to help you gamble responsibly.
Do remember, however, that GamStop is mandatory for all UK licensed online casinos in the UK and remains the most effective method to take a break from gambling.
Barclays is one of the biggest banks in the UK, and when it comes to gambling controls they don’t disappoint. Not only do they have the option to set spending limits, helping you budget throughout the month, but there are also transaction blocks available. These can be set to a certain merchant type, such as gambling. Once this block is in place the customer’s transaction will be declined straightaway.
After listening to customer feedback, Barclays introduced a 72 hour gambling transaction block in September 2020. The delay is said to give customers time to consider their reasons for gambling and their ability to afford it, and gives time for any potential ‘urge’ to gamble to pass.
Halifax, another major high street bank, is one of the best for gambling transaction block options. As a part of the Lloyds Banking Group, Halifax customers can access 3 months’ free use of Gamban, a tool which blocks all online casinos and betting sites from devices on which it is installed.
Through the mobile app, customers can also apply a gambling block to their card. This is automatically applied and blocks transactions with gambling merchants. Once you have decided to disable the gambling block it will still be active for another 48 hours, as a ‘buffer’ that allows the customer to consider their reasons for gambling and adds another layer of friction between the player and gambling.
Activating the gambling block is simple through the app. Simply head to ‘More’, ‘Card Management’, ‘Card Freeze’ and then ‘Freeze Gambling.’ As easy as 1, 2, 3... 4.
HSBC offers a service called a ‘cooling off period’, which allows customers to block gambling transactions, just like Halifax and Barclays offer. This block takes 24 hours to be disabled, acting as a barrier against the urge to return to gambling and allowing the customer extra time to think about the affordability and the responsibility of their gambling.
The block can be activated online, via the app, by phone, and in branch. HSBC is one of the banks with the widest ranges of methods of activating the block, which is helpful for those who do not feel comfortable or able to operate online or mobile banking.
Just as with Halifax, Lloyds customers can claim 3 months’ free Gamban provision, to help block gambling transactions across all installed devices. After this, the customer would be required to pay for the subscription should they wish to carry on using the Gamban service.
Lloyds also offers a gambling block, which can be activated via the mobile and tablet application. The block is applied instantly and, once disabled, takes 2-3 days to be removed.
As far as we can see, Metro Bank does not currently offer any gambling management controls. As one of the fastest growing UK banks, it's disappointing to see Metro Bank not providing its customers with the tools to limit their gambling by preventing them spending any money with gambling operators.
Nationwide does not seem to offer comprehensive blocking tools for its customers. Holders of a FlexOne account will be unable to make any gambling-related purchases, although this is completely redundant since this type of account is only available to 11-to-17-year-olds, who cannot legally gamble anyway. For all other customers, the building society offers gambling controls only on a case-by-case basis, something which should surely be improved.
Last year, in partnership with GamCare, NatWest announced a new 48-hour blocking period for use with its debit cards. This is easy to set up from the mobile app: choose your account, head to ‘Manage my card’, select ‘Card payment controls’, then select ‘Gambling’. Once you have done this, the block has been set up and you will be unable to make any gambling-related transactions for 48 hours. To turn the ban off at the end of this time period, simply go to the same page and unselect ‘Gambling Transactions’.
Santander does not offer any cooling off periods but it does offer a gambling block control which is activated through the application by heading to ‘Cards,’ and then ‘Freeze and Manage Cards.’ This block, whilst helpful, is unfortunately fully disabled as soon as the customer unfreezes gambling transactions. This lack of a cooling off period means that the tool is less effective at preventing overspending, as the user can simply turn off the block whenever the urge to gamble strikes.
All the above gambling controls are those offered by high street banks, the banks you will find branches of all across the country. Online banks, like Monzo and Starling, provide more in depth controls over your spending that can be controlled by the respective apps. We've gone into details about these responsible gambling tools in our Monzo gambling controls and our Starling gambling controls guides.
Hannah has written news articles and lifestyle blogs for three years. Venturing into the gambling industry Hannah is writing gambling content for Online Bingo and has written content for Lodgis Paris.
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